Remember when everyone wanted a computer? That seems so long ago! Nowadays, it’s all about tablets: wizard-like machines that can provide everything from education to entertainment in a portable package. They’re perfect for keeping the little ones amused with videos and games on long car journeys, as well as encouraging learning with fun 'edutainment' apps that develop and teach skills such as reading and writing, especially if the tablet comes with a stylus.
When choosing a tablet for kids, whilst you mainly need to know you can protect them with parental controls, there are a few other considerations to make such as WiFi, battery life, and storage, all of which our buying guide will cover. We’ll also be sharing our favourites from all the known and trusted brands on Amazon, eBay, John Lewis and Argos, as well as some other cheap yet reliable options, so let's begin!
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There's such a wide variety of tablets to buy online and they all vary in size, specifications and suitability, but we're here to help. When choosing a tablet for your young 'un it's important to consider aspects such as age range, parental controls, battery life and screen size, and what your child is going to be using it for.
The most important thing when buying a tablet is that it's age-appropriate, which we'll go over below. Different models suit different age ranges – some, if looked after, can actually grow with your children, while others are very much only for younger minds. Either way, it's vital to make sure each has the parental controls you require.
Secondly, you're going to want to make sure the tablet is not too fragile to be used by younger kids. It's inevitably going to be dropped, dented or drooled on throughout its life, so a model that either comes with a case, or that a case can easily be purchased for, is paramount.
Toddler-specific tablets are a worry-free choice here – you won't have to lock on any parental controls as they don't usually have WiFi or internet access, and if they do, they'll use kid-safe browsers and have all the necessary restrictions sorted for you.
There will come a point when your kids no longer want a 'toddler' tablet. They've no doubt seen what grown-up tablets look like and will want in on the action. Of course, regular tablets tend not to have the 2-inch foam outer case (but we'd still recommend having a case) and perhaps mean they will be offered a little more freedom with regards to the internet, which you'll have to monitor.
Therefore, at this stage, it's probably worth purchasing a tablet intended for adult use and locking it down with the age-appropriate parental controls of your choice, so that you're not pestered to purchase an upgrade a couple of years down the line.
Each brand's tablet will come with its own 'marketplace' that offers different apps. We all know that children want to be able to play or watch what everyone else is playing and watching, so it's important that (with your permission, of course) they have these options available to them, whilst limiting any inappropriate downloads.
The two leaders, based solely on the number of apps featured, are Android's Google Play and Apple's App Store, both boasting over 1,500,000. However, other options like Amazon's App Store and Windows Store still offer around 500,000 apps, which we think is more than enough to keep kids entertained.
Some tablets like the LeapFrog brand have their own version too, which although guaranteed appropriate and safe, and particularly versed in educational apps, may lead to some discontent when they're not able to take part like the others. So choose wisely!
While the amount of time a kid spends on a tablet should be monitored, and not exceed the healthy recommended amount, it's also important for parents to avoid nuclear-sized meltdowns which could happen if a tablet dies when you're only 4 hours into the drive to France. Plus, at the end of the day, we all want to get our money's worth, don't we?
For younger kids who require less screen time and will only really be using the tablet for entertainment purposes, around 6 hours of battery life should do the trick.
However, if you are purchasing for an older child that will be using it for both education and enjoyment, it may be worth going for a model with 8-12 hours of battery life. This also saves you getting it in the neck when they haven't charged it!
You may think that children don't need a lot of tablet storage (and this may be true initially), but soon they're going to be loading them up with everything from movies to apps, so it's worth getting a device that can hold a decent amount. Whilst there are 8GB options available, we recommend that you go for at least 16GB, which will allow a bit more breathing room.
It's also worth mentioning that some tablets come with removable storage, in the form of a micro SD card. This is simply a memory card that can be filled with extra content such as movies, and inserted into the device as needed. Available in sizes from 8 GB to a mega 512 GB, they're a good one to think about if you want the option to expand.
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Fire 7 Kids Edition
A Tablet That Comes With Everything
Galaxy Tab A LTE
A Smart and Sleek Pick to Connect Anywhere
Galaxy Tab A8
A Perfect Tablet for the Whole House
Lexitab Paw Patrol
A Linkable Option Designed for Kids and Tweens
Leap Pad Ultimate
An Educational Tool for Young Learners
iPad Mini 5
A Tablet for Tiny Hands That Can Grow With Them
This tablet generously comes with a 1-year subscription to Amazon Fire For Kids, so you can download everything from books to educational apps, for free. All this is age-appropriate for kids from 3-12, but can be altered any time at the parent's discretion. Plus, the accompanying case is spill-, slobber- and slime-proof, so it's ready for anything.
And even if something does manage to get through, there's a 2-year warranty that will ensure you get the entire thing replaced for free. The best bit? Just pop the case off and you have yourself a fully functioning regular tablet, so it can mature as they do.
This slick device is from the same family as the previous entry, so it's no surprise it comes with the same kid-safe features, the ability to beef up the storage, equally powerful performance and almost as good a battery life.
The reason the battery suffers slightly is only due to its extra functions, which we deem worth it – such as 2 inches more screen space with very little added weight. It can also be made cellular, perfect if you're taking a long trip and know they'll want to browse beyond a WiFi zone.
This tablet really was made with the whole family in mind – the 'Kids Home' feature allows you to stay in control of what they'll be viewing, whilst also giving them the freedom to do as they please. There's 32 GB of storage, with the option to add a mammoth 512 GB via micro SD card. Plus the sleek and smart look means the kids won't be embarrassed by it when they get a bit older!
This tablet really is the perfect blend of performance and design – while it excels at the basics, it also has a lot more to offer. One such example is the enormous battery life of up 14 hours, which gives you the freedom to sometimes forget about the charger!
Worried that your kids play too much and give little attention to learning? This may be the product for them as it encourages them to not only play with their tablet but also learn - thanks to its educational content for kids.
The learning content includes Maths, Geography, History as well as 180 e-books, so it's great for homework and school work! Designed for both little kids and children in their early teens, this gadget not only has a night filter to protect their eyes but also comes with foldable headphones that have limited sound power.
This tablet from LeapFrog is brilliant at engaging children from as young as 3. It has 'Just For Me' technology that adjusts the difficulty of the games and apps based on who's using it, never leaving them disheartened and always entertained. It also has the ability to set playtime limits, so that when time's up, it's up.
Although the official age range is 3-9 years, if your kid is on the other side of 7 you may end up being pestered for another device in a couple of years. Another drawback is that the only apps accessible are those through the LeapFrog App Centre, which are always safe, but may not be the games they really want.
"The iPad mini?" We hear you say, as you lay eyes on the price. We know. But, they are excellent. They have ample storage, a long battery life, and access to one of the greatest app marketplaces. The latest version even comes with Apple Pen connectivity, to practice writing or start their journey to becoming the next Picasso, though you'll have to purchase it separately.
There isn't much to dislike, other than the astonishing price tag, but it'll be an investment for the long haul – though we completely understand if you're not comfortable giving your 5-year-old something that costs the best part of £400. For that reason alone it's at the bottom of our ranking!
Whether for at home or a family day out, we've got several other tricks up our sleeves to keep your little ones entertained. Check our recommendations out below!
Tablets can be a great learning tool for kids (as well as being used for fun!), especially when you get the right specifications. As with most things in their lives, it can be difficult to find the perfect fit, but we hope you've found this article useful in helping you decide the best and safest way for them to spend their screen time.
Author: Lewis Clark
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