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Give your youngster a magical mirror that teleports them into the world of shapes, colors, math, science, and never-ending reruns of “Paw Patrol.” Don’t be afraid of screens. Today’s best tablets for kids are designed to be user-friendly, parent-friendly, durable, and safe. An affordable children’s tablet is not a distraction from the real world but a friendly learning center that helps kids adapt to, and navigate through, the modern world. The best kids’ tablets are much more than busy boxes to entertain kids on road trips. And the best tablets for seven to 10-year-olds are more than rubber bricks that play Disney songs. These handheld touch screens are sophisticated, yet simple, tools for learning, playing, and…yes…keeping kids occupied at TGIFridays.
- Best for toddlers: Animal Island AILA Sit & Play Preschool Learning System
- Best for kids age 3 to 7: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
- Best for kids age 7 to 10: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro Tablet
- Best for kids over 10: Apple iPad
- Best budget: Pritom 7-Inch Kids Tablet
What to consider when shopping for the best tablets for kids
There’s a big difference between standard tablets and tablets made for kids under the age of 10. Simply put: Don’t hand your clumsy kid an iPad Pro and expect to get it back unscatched. The best tablet for kids should be durable, affordable, and highly controllable. It should also be fun and functional.
The tablet must be as kid-proof as possible
Imagine throwing a pane of glass into a tornado, and you’ll have a good idea about what a tablet for kids will be up against. The best tablet for eight-year-olds and younger must have tough, rubberized protection around the edge. And the best tablet for a two-year-old should be more rubber than screen if you plan to use it longer than a day.
Thankfully, some of the biggest brands make strong tablets designed for the wobbly and dirty hands of kids. The rubber shell of these tablets will be thick and round—something a tiny hand can comfortably grasp. But you could cage the screen in Wolverine’s adamantium bones and kids will still find a way to break, scrap, and scratch the tablet. No tablet is 100 percent kid-proof, so don’t be too angry if a toddler drops the gadget in the toilet. All kids’ tablets are temporary. And a good protection program and warranty is a must.
For children older than eight, you won’t need as much protection. Plus, some older kids will balk at the idea of using a baby tablet that looks more like a toy than a computer. Older kids should be able to handle a regular tablet, as long as you use a robust case. And always explain to your kids the importance of gadget care.
Don’t spend too much
If you’re spending more than $300 on a tablet for a kid between the ages of two and eight, you’re probably spending too much. Tablets designed for children are typically more affordable, costing less than $200.
These tablets will lack the hefty processing power of an iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface Pro. But kids don’t need all that functionality. Unless your five-year-old is a graphic designer using the tablet to create a multimedia campaign for an international sneaker company, they won’t miss the ability to use the full Adobe suite.
Yes, these lower-priced tablets can be sluggish. But if you streamline the apps, using only what’s important, today’s kid-friendly tablets get the job done at a fraction of the price of the professional touch screens. The best tablet for kids is like dinner at a restaurant—don’t order the filet mignon if all they’ll eat is the bread. Stick with the kiddie menu.
Size of the tablet screen and internal storage
There are smaller and much larger screens, but generally speaking an eight-inch screen with 1,280 x 800-pixel resolution is perfect for kids of all ages. This size is big enough to play games and watch videos without being too big and cumbersome for tiny hands.
Check the specs and look for at least 8GB of storage. The more storage the better, since you and your family will quickly fill up a tablet with apps, music, photos, and videos. Storage management is a pain for adults and tantrum-inducing for young kids. A microSD card slot can give you extra space, but always be careful with tiny parts around small children. Those cards do look delicious.
While no one is expecting a kids’ tablet to run at breakneck speeds, find a tablet with at least 2GB of RAM to get apps up and running quickly and smoothly. The more RAM means the easier it will be to run multiple apps at once.
You have the power: The joys of parental control
The ability to limit screen time and restrict online access is a must. Make sure the tablet is equipped with parental controls. Tablets like the Amazon Fire come equipped with controls that allow parents to set up educational goals, reinforcing the idea that this isn’t a toy—it’s a learning device.
The best tablet for kids should also block social media apps. Most social media platforms have age restrictions already in place, but ingenious kids can find loopholes to gain access. (Lying about your age? What kind of hacker madness is this?) A secure children’s tablet will effectively block the insanity and cruelty of Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and any other social media timesuck.
Parents must, of course, know how parental controls operate. Before handing over a tablet to your child, play around with it and get a feel for the interface and management system. You don’t want to ask your kid for help on this one.
Is the tablet for school?
Distance learning and virtual classrooms have become a norm during the pandemic. But even in-person education relies on technology to teach. If your child’s school asks students to use a tablet, make sure the tablet you choose can run the necessary apps. For instance, Amazon tablets are great for kids, but they only run proprietary apps. If your school or daycare wants to use third-party programs, the tablet may not be up to the challenge.
Check with your school. The IT department will do doubt have the specs and recommendations for a tablet that can run the right apps. And don’t assume every tablet is the same.
The best tablet for kids
The market is flooded with bright, colorful tablets aimed at kids. But some of these tablets are nothing more than an overpriced calculator. Look for trusted brands with a proven track record of creating useful technology. Your children’s tablet should be fun, strong, and functional.
Best for toddlers: Animal Island AILA Sit & Play Preschool Learning System
The AILA Sit and Play is not a traditional tablet. All the apps and content is curated by the company to create a learning experience. (No web surfing, no app store, no subscriptions.) Parents can set up and monitor the tablet on their smartphone. Daily lessons are aimed at children between 12 and 36 months old. It’s a lot of fun for toddlers, but it’s not good for older kids who will get bored by the kiddie content. With its sturdy pedestal, this the best tablet for toddlers who aren’t yet ready to hold a screen in their hands. This is more of an early learning tool than a full-blown tablet, so don’t expect robust functionality.
Best for kids age 3 to 7: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet
Amazon has become the king of tablets for kids, and with good reason. The colorful and sturdy Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the latest kid-friendly touch screen and checks all the boxes of a quality tablet. Its 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM is more than enough power to comfortably run apps and stream videos. The battery lasts 12 hours and the eight-inch tablet has decent front and rear cameras (both 2MP). It comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, the subscription service that provides age-appropriate movies, shows, music, and games. (It’s $3 a month after the free trial.) And the parental dashboard is simple and secure for adults to manage. As an added bonus, the device comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee—Amazon will replace the tablet if it breaks or cracks. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the best tablet for kids too old for baby games and too young for more delicate electronics.
Best for kids age 7 to 10:: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro Tablet
The kids’ edition of the Amazon Fire HD 10 Pro has a big, bright HD screen perfect for watching movies and playing games. That’s one of the reasons why this device is a fantastic upgrade from the Amazon HD 8. The bigger model is designed for older kids, with more RAM, better web-surfing capability, and less lag. The protective bumper case is slimmer than the HD 8 and gives the tablet a more mature look and feel. It comes with the same 12 months of Amazon Kids+ and the two-year worry-free guarantee of the Amazon HD 8 tablet for kids. For parents looking to buy a bigger, better tablet for the whole family, the HD 10 Pro is a powerful tool that can take a beating.
Best for kids over 10: Apple iPad, 10.2-inch
The Apple iPad is the iconic leader of the tablet market. The latest iPad 10.2 is a beautiful and elegant device that makes work easier and more fun. For kids mature enough to handle a delicate tablet, the iPad is the perfect portable computer. The long list of apps and functions makes it the most versatile tablet on the list. No matter if your kid needs help accomplishing complex school work, or wants their own screen to watch shows and play games, the iPad 10.2 handles all digital tasks with ease. Add the intuitive (though slightly overpriced) Apple Pencil to get even more out of the tablet. The biggest downside: This device isn’t so good for clumsy kids covered in candy. The iPad is for young adults who know how to use expensive gadgets. And even if the kid is responsible, a sturdy rubber case is recommended to keep the device protected.
Best budget: Pritom 7-Inch Kids Tablet
What can you expect from a tablet that costs less than $70? More than you may think. While the Pritom 7-inch tablet is a far cry from the dignified and industrious iPad, this budget-priced Android tablet for kids can accomplish the basics such as watching YouTube and playing games. It comes with pre-installed apps for children between the ages of two and 12 and has parental controls to manage screen time. But never forget: This is a discount item, and that means it’s not as dependable as an Amazon or Apple tablet. You may be better off spending an extra $100 to buy a tablet that will last longer. However, if your young one has the tendency to drop, lose, or toss things into a volcano, an Android tablet like this one is a gadget you won’t worry too much about replacing.
Q: What is the best tablet for a six-year-old?
The best tablet for a six-year-old is the Amazon HD 8 for kids. This tablet can take a beating and still offers a great interactive experience. Amazon continues to provide great content on its Amazon Kids+ subscription service, and the parental controls are the best of any tablet. If your six-year-old is an old soul and can be trusted with higher-quality tech, opt for the bigger Amazon Fire HD 10 Pro for kids. It has a bigger, better screen and faster processing power. But it lacks a thick rubber shell, so kids need to be a bit more careful.
Q: What is the best tablet for a three-year-old?
The best tablet for a three-year-old is one you won’t mind replacing. Kids that young are not known for their careful handling of electronics. You may not want to invest $200 in a tablet the kid will destroy or lose by the end of the day. For that reason, a budget-priced Android tablet, like the Pritom seven-inch tablet, is a solid choice. It’s not as powerful or fast as the expensive tablets, but it does provide enough functionality to make it slightly more than a toy. And after your child gets used to handling a tablet, it will be easier and safer to upgrade to a more mature device like the Amazon HD 8 kids edition.
Q: What tablet is best for a nine-year-old?
The best tablet for a nine-year-old is the iPad 10.2, but only if they’re ready to safely handle the device. The iPad 10.2 is a powerful machine that can be used for school work, watching videos, making art, playing games, clicking around the internet, and much, much more. But the iPad is not specifically designed for kids. If you get an iPad for a nine-year-old, make sure it has a substantial rubber case and protection plan. And if you’re worried the kid isn’t ready for the responsibility, choose the more kid-friendly Amazon HD 10 Pro for kids.
The final word on the best tablet for kids
Screens aren’t going anywhere, and if you want to introduce your kids to a tablet, make sure it’s safe, secure, and parent-friendly. Amazon offers several high-quality tablets for kids of all ages. Younger kids will need a tablet with a big case that’s easy to hold. Older kids will get the most out of an Apple iPad and will appreciate all that it can accomplish. Look for a good warranty, because any tablet for kids is susceptible to falls and scratches. And when in doubt, look for a brand you know and trust, like Amazon or Apple. Or, pick up a budget-priced tablet if you just need something your kids can play with in the car.