While we may disagree with one another on a variety of different subjects, there is one thing we can all agree on: children love touchscreens. Their little fingers may not be nimble enough to write their own name, but they can tap, swipe and pinch better than most adults.
Of course, there are throngs of people who scoff at the sight of kids with their eyes glued to a tablet or a smartphone. However, these devices can be important developmental tools, portals to educational material, and the source of hours of entertainment. The fact of the matter is that a tablet can be an indispensable parenting tool – just ask anyone who has had to endure a long plane, train or car ride with a youngster.
What to Consider
There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to buying a tablet for a child. Which one is best will depend on a variety of factors, such as the age of the child, your budget, and what sort of parental controls you may need. Furthermore, you may also want to consider the tablet’s durability. After all, if your youngster lacks fine motor skills or is a bit rough with things, you probably don’t want to hand them your iPad Pro.
Fortunately, there are a number of different products available, and some are even marketed as being kid-friendly. However, just because a tablet is labelled kid-friendly, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
Trusted brands like Leap Frog and others have made tablets specifically for children. Often these devices feature spill- and drop-proof designs, with various parental controls. While these devices may be suitable for very young children (approximately three to five years old), we have found that they don’t necessarily offer the best value for the money.
These child-centric devices are often hampered by weak processors and minimal RAM, making for sluggish performance. Furthermore, they are kneecapped by their lack of software. Your child’s tastes will change as they get older. Regrettably, many of these tablets have limited software options, rendering them obsolete once your child hits a certain age.
For these reasons, the tablets included on this list were chosen for their ability to grow with your child, to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids
Inside the colorful protective bumper case, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition is exactly the same as the standard Fire HD 10 tablet. Both devices boast a bigger and better screen, better processor and more RAM. Aside from more impressive technical specifications, the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime and a two-year replacement warranty.
FreeTime gives kids access to over 20,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, Audible audio books, and educational content, all filtered to ensure they’re kid-friendly. Furthermore, much of the content available through FreeTime is from brands kids know and love, like PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more. Be aware that FreeTime is a paid-subscription-based service. While you get one year free with the purchase of the tablet, renewals start at $2.99 per month.
2. Amazon Fire HD 8
If the Kids Edition is too “baby-ish” for your brood, consider the Amazon Fire HD 8. The Fire HD 8 is one of the least expensive tablets on the market, currently retailing for $79.99. It boasts a vibrant 8-inch high definition screen and an impressive ten-hour battery life. The Fire HD 8 is available in both 16 and 32 GB varieties; however, the 32 GB model commands a $30 price hike. Thankfully, the Fire HD 8 supports microSD cards up to 400 GB, so you can opt for the cheaper 16 GB model without worrying about storage space.
With such a low price tag, there are some cut corners, mainly with the paltry 1.5 GB of RAM and the lackluster 2 MP front and back cameras. Despite this, there are some extras like hands-free Alexa; however, you’ll have to do without Google apps. You won’t find the Play Store, Gmail, Google Drive or any other proprietary Google apps. Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap tablet that allows your kids to watch videos from Netflix or Amazon Prime, the Fire HD 8 might be exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Lenovo Tab 4
If the lack of Google apps is a deal breaker, you may want to consider the Tab 4 from Lenovo. The Tab 4 features decent specs at a wallet-friendly price, but what makes it an attractive choice for children is the optional Kid’s Pack. This includes a shock-resistant bumper, blue-light filters and decorative stickers.
Furthermore, the Tab 4 supports multiple accounts, meaning every member of the family can personalize the device to their own liking, including kids. With the Kids Account, children have access to specially-curated age-appropriate apps and games. Additionally, kids can use an Internet browser with whitelisted websites, ensuring they won’t stray into inappropriate areas of the web.
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1
Compared to other Android tablets we’ve mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is on the pricier end of the spectrum, retailing for about $250. That being said, that price tag becomes more justifiable with the realization the tablet can be used by multiple members of the family. The Tab A features a “Kid Mode,” which is described by Samsung as “your child’s first digital playground.” This gives kids access to over 3,000 apps curated specifically for children, most of which have an educational slant.
The best part about Kid Mode is that it is locked with a PIN, preventing your child from exiting it. If an adult wants to use the tablet, simply punch in the PIN, and he or she will be greeted by the familiar, unrestricted Android experience.
Furthermore, the Tab A supports multiple profiles. This ensures that every family member can have his or her own account. The Tab A also features robust parental controls. It allows parents to restrict the content their youngsters have access to and limit their usage.
5. Apple iPad (2018 model)
If your heart doesn’t skip a beat every time you see a child being rough with sensitive electronics, Apple’s iPad may be for you. Granted, you’ll need deeper pockets compared to some of the dirt cheap Android tablets out there, but it’s worth it. On the hardware side, the iPad has a lot to boast about. The 9.7 inch Retina screen is a treat for the eyes, and the A10 Fusion processor can keep pace with your little power user easily.
Additionally, the iPad features a large and robust app store. Whether you want educational apps that utilize augmented reality or the latest tablet-optimized games, it’s going to be available on the Apple App Store.
To sweeten the deal, the 2018 model of the iPad supports the Apple Pencil. While the Apple’s Pencil is going to run you another $100, it’s a worthwhile investment if you have a little one who likes to draw.
Overall, the iPad does everything and then some. If you’re in the market for a tablet that can grow with your child, don’t balk at this one just because of the price tag.
Does your child use a tablet? Which one of our picks do you think they would go for? Let us know in the comments!