They can be entertaining, educational, or both, and it’s not at all uncommon to hear kids of today beg for their very own tablet. It’s an ask that leaves parents with a lot of considerations, such as which tablet is best, how to kid-proof it for both durability and content, and whether a “real” tablet or toy would be more appropriate. If your kids are begging to join in on the tablet craze, check out our guide making a suitable choice as well as a rundown of the seven best tablets for kids, both toy and electronic.

How To Pick The Best Tablet for Kids

1. Recommended Age

Parents, you already know that age is a major factor when buying clothes, toys, and gear for your kids. Your four year old and your twelve year old have very different needs when it comes to entertainment and education, which means that there are few toys and personal items they can legitimately share.

In some cases, a tablet is one of them, as picks like an iPad or Android tablet can easily be “kid-proofed” with a durable shock-proof case and proper use of parental controls while also remaining useful to older kids in the house. However, tablets specifically designed for younger children that can’t be upgraded or changed won’t have much educational or entertainment functionality for older kids. Likewise, toy tablets are generally just for the younger set, but they usually have a hard-and-fast age recommendation to steer you away if they’re too young for your child.

2. Display size

Screen size matters a lot when you’re using a tablet, as a larger display makes content easier to see and touch screens easier to access. You’re likely to come across a pretty wide variety of display sizes when shopping, with some picks on offer being only slightly larger than your cell phone while others are over a foot wide. As a rule of thumb, a larger display size costs more money, so it’s important to weigh cost vs. benefit when deciding what size tablet to buy.

3. Toy vs. electronic

When younger kids ask for a tablet, parents are faced with a bit of a dilemma. Should you invest in a real electronic device that has the potential to be more entertaining and useful, but which is far more costly and breakable? One alternative is a toy tablet designed for education or drawing. Though not all of them are less expensive than Wi-Fi-accessible electronics, they’re almost always more durable and designed specifically by use for the preschool and kindergarten set. If you’re not confident that an Android or iPad is appropriate for your little one, a toy tablet may satisfy you both.

4. Camera

Many tablets can now capture high definition photos and videos, making them a great way to add to a personal media library, share special occasions, and even video chat with others. While this is a valuable feature for adults, some parents would prefer that their child’s tablet not have a camera because of privacy concerns. Tablets designed specifically for younger children typically do not include a camera.

On the flip side, if a camera is a feature you’re looking for in your child’s tablet, there are a few factors to consider. Both Android and iPad tablets typically feature front-and-rear-facing cameras. iPads tend to boast better image and video quality through a higher megapixel camera, but the quality comes with a hefty price tag, and storage space can’t be expanded through an SD slot like it can when using an Android.

5. Built-in case / Durability features

One of the first things that comes to a prudent parent’s mind when their child asks for electronics is how to make sure the device survives the rough-and-tumble chaos that comes with kids. Although it’s a great way to teach responsibility, it’s also wise to protect your investment by making sure it’s as durable as possible.

Some tablets, like the Fire Kids tablet, have a built-on shockproof case which can’t be removed and protects both the internal electronics and the display from damage in the event of a fall. Toys like those from LeapFrog and VTech tend to be far more durable in general than electronic tablets, and won’t require any extra on your part to keep in working order.

When it comes to Android and iPad tablets that see equal use from older kids, teens, and adults, you’ll need to bring your own case to ensure durability. Thick plastic cases with hard outer shells and soft inner linings tend to offer cushioning and shock protection during falls. It’s also wise to cover the touchscreen display with a screen protector, which clings to the glass to prevent scratches and cracks and wipes clean easily with a screen wipe.

6. Battery life

Electronics that die quickly are a big bummer at any age, but kids are especially prone to disappointment and frustration when their devices can’t hold out. Looking for a tablet that boasts decent battery life is wise, as some rank far better than others at staying alive without a charge. Devices designed expressly for younger kids tend to rank worse here unfortunately; to draw an example from our list, the Android-powered Lenovo Tab 4 can live for 20 hours, while the Kano Computer Kit Touch will live for only three.

Best Budget Buy

The Winners

#1

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best Overall

Amazon’s Fire tablets have earned their place as a popular pick, delivering an operating system that blends Android’s functionality with Amazon’s personal app suite on sturdy devices that are budget friendly. They’ve taken things a step further with the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, bypassing the time-consuming steps of finding a durable case and setting up adequate parental controls by offering a tablet that’s built into a non-removable shock-absorbent plastic shell and features only child-appropriate content.

This includes learning apps, games, and media like books and songs thanks to an included one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which costs only $36/year thereafter. Parents will also have the ability to further refine parental controls to be more restrictive or permissive both through the device and through the remote Amazon Parent Dashboard.

Recommended age: 3+
Display size: 8″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: Yes
Battery life: 10 hours

#2

Apple iPad Mini

Upgrade Choice

Apple’s popular iPad line was one of the first to bring tablet computing into the mainstream, and the versatile devices are now ubiquitous. They bring a blend of usefulness and fun for both kids and adults, but for those on a budget, they can also come with a bit of sticker shock.

The iPad mini is a nice balance between the full-sized original and smaller iPhones, bringing well-loved apps and features like FaceTime, a high-definition 8MP camera with 1080p video, and touch ID security to a portable device that will remain usable and interesting as your child grows. It’s a nice investment as a shared family device, but parents unfamiliar with the products should note that no durability features are built in; you’ll definitely want a shock-proof case when giving an iPad to kids!

Recommended age: 10+
Display size: 7.9″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: Yes
Built-in case: No
Battery life: 10 hours

#3

LeapFrog LeapPad3

Best Budget Buy

One of the top concerns in allowing kids to use electronics is the content they’re able to access. Choosing a device made just for children, like a LeapFrog, assures that everything present is intended for your little one and will benefit their learning.

The 5″ LeapPad3 is just the right size for little hands, and features a shatter-proof touch screen and drop-proof construction that make for a durable device even in the hands of the youngest users. LeapFrog’s patented learning library includes more than a thousand games, videos, eBooks, and more, and the device cleverly adapts to your child’s skill level and what they’ve learned to provide content that stimulates and challenges — no annoying repetition of the same songs and phrases, over and over! Another cool aspect: LeapFrog devices aren’t just for the pint-size set there’s content that can be useful and interesting to kids up to age nine.

Recommended age: 3-9 years
Display size: 5″
Toy or electronic: Toy/electronic
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: Yes
Battery life: 6+ hours

#4

Sunany LCD Writing Tablet

Best Writing Tablet

If you’re wary of dropping big bucks on pricey electronics for your little ones, you’re not alone. Toy alternatives can provide entertainment without the strain on your wallet, and the Sunany LCD Writing Tablet is great for preschool and kindergarten kids who are mastering small motor skills and learning to write and draw.

The simple 8.5″ tablet features a flat black surface and a drawing “pen” — using the pen creates a pressure-sensitive line on the LCD screen, allowing kids to write or draw to their heart’s content. When they’re ready to clear the page, all they have to do is push a button! There will be far less wasted paper as they practice designs on their tablet, and its low-mess style and extensive battery life mean it’s a perfect addition to road trips and other fun on the go.

Recommended age: 3+
Display size: 8.5″
Toy or electronic: Toy
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: n/a
Battery life: n/a

#5

Kano Computer Kit Touch

Best Building Code Tablet

There’s a lot kids can learn from tablets, but learning how to build their own portable computing device is fairly unique to the Kano Computer Kit. With it, kids can use included components to create their very own Raspberry Pi 3 tablet featuring a case and stand, USB and HDMI ports, decorative stickers, a sound sensor, and more.

The tablet is powered by Kano’s unique operating system, which will allow them to create their own digital art and music, play games, browse kid-appropriate online content, check out YouTube videos, and even “hack” games like Minecraft. STEM building kits are excellent picks for encouraging critical thinking, use of logic, and focus; this particular kit is designed for kids age six and over, so it’ll get their gears turning without being frustratingly complex.

Recommended age: 6+
Display size: 10.1″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: Yes
Battery life: 3 hours

#6

Lenovo Tab 4

Best for Older Kids

Although tablets can be useful to just about anyone, age and circumstance dictate the right pick in many cases. The Lenovo Tab 4 is a versatile pick that can be good for younger children, but is exceptionally good for older ones.

The Android-powered tablet features an 8″ high definition display that’s great for reading, learning, games, movies, and shows. Parents and kids alike will love that this device has a remarkable 20 hours of battery life, which means it’s less likely to die when they’re away from the charger for long periods of time. Another cool aspect of this tablet is that it can easily be converted to a kid-safe pick for little ones with use of the Lenovo Kid’s Pack. which adds a blue shock-resistant case, blue-light screen filter and decorative stickers. Parents should note that this isn’t included — without it, the tablet can be delicate, so a shock-proof case of some type should be installed before handing it off to the kids.

Recommended age: 10+
Display size: 8″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: Yes
Built-in case: No
Battery life: 20 hours

#7

VTech Little Apps Tablet

Best Toy Tablet

Though the youngest users may find bigger Android and iOS-powered tablets interesting, it’s generally best for them to stick to age-appropriate devices that are more durable and less costly like the VTech Little Apps Tablet. It’s just the right size for kids between two and five, and features 12 interactive activities which teach children numbers and counting, letters and words, and daily life skills.

Built in writing and musical keyboards allow kids to interact with games and create their own songs, and a play camera lets them practice “pointing and shooting” their photos. Parents will love that this pick features volume control, and that there’s an auto shut-off feature to preserve battery life if kids wander away or fall asleep.

Recommended age: 2-5 years
Display size: 8″
Toy or electronic: Toy
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: n/a
Battery life: n/a (2 AA batteries required)

#8

VANKYO MatrixPad Z1 Kids Tablet

A great case makes all the difference when preserving a tablet’s durability, but it can also include components that make the device easier to use. That’s the “case” with the VANKYO MatrixPad Z1 Kids Tablet, which houses a quality 7″ high definition Android tablet in a hard, shock-proof plastic case featuring a 360 degree adjustable stand. This allows kids to prop the tablet up in order to watch a video, show, or movie, play a game, or video chat with family members. It can also make it a bit easier to hang onto when playing while seated in the car.

There’s more to love here than the quality case, thanks to a range of kid-friendly apps, games, and media accessible on the tablet. Android’s parental controls allow the creation of profiles, so it’s easy to share the device between multiple kids, and even hand-pick the content they’ll be allowed to access and their total screen time. Finally, it also has an impressive storage capacity: 32GB with an expandable 128GB slot means they won’t be running out of room any time soon.

Recommended age: 8+
Display size: 7″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: No
Built-in case: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours

#9

Samsung - Galaxy Kids Tablet

Best Themed Tablet

Samsung’s line of Android-powered Galaxy Tablets are popular with both kids and adults for their suite of useful and fun apps, expandable internal storage, and responsive, durable touchscreen. The pick seen here is just for kids, featuring a soft shock-proof bumper case in bright green that’s easy for them to grasp and hold. The case isn’t just protective, it also features characters from the popular LEGO Ninjago movie, making it a quick favorite with fans.

The tablet itself is packed with educational and entertaining content, including learning that focuses on STEM skills and common core math. You’ll be able to efficiently manage time limits, content access, and in-app purchases through the parental control suite, so it’s easy to tailor the tablet to their needs, abilities, and maturity level. A rear 2.0MP camera allows kids to practice their photography skills, and 8GB of internal storage with an extra Micro SD slot to be used as needed means there’s plenty of room for their pics and apps.

Recommended age: 8+
Display size: 7″
Toy or electronic: Electronic
Includes camera: Yes
Built-in case: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours

Quick Decision

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition – Best Overall
Amazon’s Fire tablets have earned their place as a popular pick, delivering an operating system that blends Android’s functionality with Amazon’s personal app suite on sturdy devices.

 Apple iPad Mini – Upgrade Choice
The iPad mini is a nice balance between the full-sized original and smaller iPhones, bringing well-loved apps and features.

LeapFrog LeapPad3 – Best Budget Buy
Choosing a device made just for children, like a LeapFrog, assures that everything present is intended for your little one and will benefit their learning.

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Hannah H.

Hannah H.

Hannah is both a parent and a freelance journalist and author. You go, girl! She is an impeccable wordsmith and her warm and witty outlook on life makes her pieces a joy to read.

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