As kids become more connected with technology, it’s not at all uncommon to see each child with their own gadget. Tablets are often the best choice for the under-12 crowd. They are resilient, easy to use, and adaptive to different learning and entertainment needs. The best tablet for kids is a toss-up between the Kindle Fire, iPad Mini, and the more juvenile Nabi tablet. The best cheap kids tablet is the Kindle Fire, at $49.99. Here’s how to pick the tablet that’s best for your child without spending too much money.
Determining Your Needs for the Best Tablet for Kids
Before you ever go shopping for a tablet for kids, you had better know the child you are shopping for. Kids aged preschool or younger will need far fewer features than a kid in grade school. Likewise, older kids and high schoolers can benefit from a tablet that’s geared to grow with them. Some of the most important differentiating functions of a kids tablet are usually the following…
Kids Tablet Operating system and Store Selection
The most popular tablet will run on one of a few operating systems. Among those are the Apple iOs, Android, Windows, and proprietary systems (for the lesser-known tablets.) Some kids are already programmed to use the Apple family of platforms and are accustomed to using the iTunes library and app store to find the programs and games they are looking for. Beyond familiarity, however, there isn’t a specific reason to choose one tablet platform over another. If you have a selection of games or apps that you simply must have access to, however, cross reference them between the Apple store, Amazon store (for the Kindle), and Google Play to make sure the apps you want are able to be used on your choice of tablet.
Kids Tablet Battery Life
Kids’ games can use up battery juice pretty quickly, especially if they require being connected to wi-fi. Anticipate that most sessions for a child will be a couple of hours or less. If possible, aim for a battery life of 6 hours or more. Many tablets use battery-saver modes to keep the drain to a minimum when you have less than 30 minutes available. The best tablet for kids will go into hibernation mode when not used for a bit or allows for quick charging in a pinch.
Kids Tablet Price
Prices for a tablet for kids can range anywhere from $14 for a crude, almost toy-like device. For a kids tablet that runs recognizable software (Android or iOS) the pricing starts as low as $49.99 with the Kindle Fire and ranges upwards of $349 for Apple iPads.
Kids Tablet Branding
So many of the kids tablets on the market today are marketed to kids, but are merely adult tablets in flashy cases. The Kindle Fire for Kids, for example, is the same Fire offered to adults, but dressed in a colorful protective case and bundled with a 2-year damage or loss warranty. The Nabi tablet for kids is another product that has worked its marketing magic to include branding partnerships. It offers limited-edition tablets with DreamWorks, Hot Wheels, and Barbie branded apps and accessories.
Ideally, you would want to get your child a full-featured tablet with the power of a grown-up gadget. You’ll also to avoid unlimited access to shady YouTube videos or inappropriate first-shooter apps. Most all the best tablets for kids have basic privacy and content restrictions, but they are usually either set to “on” or “off” and aren’t intuitive between users. The Kindle Fire, however, is recommended to be used with the Kindle FreeTime app, a nifty solution that monitors content and time, and won’t allow for a child to exit the program without a parent password. It saves profiles for up to 6 kids to give each child their own version of free play based on age and educational goals.
Most of the top kids tablets are pretty resilient, due to their slim profiles and sturdy construction. If you’re planning on giving it to a toddler to use, however, it’s best to invest in a protective case. Some tablets designed for kids come with rubberized edges or scratch-proof screen covers, though. If you choose to go with a full-on grownup tablet, such as the iPad mini, there is an abundance of products on the market to “child-proof” the tablet to ensure it lasts a long time.
3 Top Tablets for Kids by Price
Amazon Kindle Fire ($49.99)
For price, features, and durability, the Kindle Fire is hard to beat as the best tablet for kids. It can be easily converted from a grown-up Kindle (used for reading, emails, surfing, media streaming, and shopping) to a kid’s tablet via a quick tap on the Freetime app. Ample storage space and decent battery life make it the set all-around kids tablet. Many schools are turning to the Kindle as way to give every kid a tablet.
Priced at $49.99, it’s hard to beat price-wise, as well.
Nabi DreamTab ($95)
Finally, when it comes to cute and friendly for the best kids tablet, the Nabi Tablets are a good choice. Everything about these tablets let you know that they had kids in mind when building, from the cartoon-branded interface to the array of apps from partners DreamWorks and Mattel.
This tablet does most everything you’d want a kids’ tablet to do. It also has extra care paid to operate the way kids play and work. Junior versions of social media, movie making, and even chore apps are included with the operating system. Most children would be delighted with such a kid-centric approach toward tech.
iPad Mini ($349)
The iPad Mini ranks well for older kids and those wanting to simply integrate their Apple libraries and phone functions. Many junior high and high school kids with iPhones find the iPad mini a natural choice.
Superior processing speeds and all the goodies you love on Apple’s iOS may help justify the $200+ price tag on even the previous generation models, but it is clearly not the cheapest kids tablet.
Even the best tablet for kids has a limited return window for you to try after you buy. Did you set up your tablet but aren’t sure you made the best choice? Feel free to contact the tablet manufacturer promptly to set up a return. All three companies are surprisingly easy to work. They will solve any glitches or hardware issues with your new device. If you find that it simply wasn’t a good match, however, you may find a better experience with one of the other two tablet picks.