As any parent or carer will know, keeping kids engaged can prove challenging at the best of times. So, the prospect of playing the entertainer for weeks trapped at home may seem daunting.
If you're currently on lockdown and struggling to educate and entertain your kids, then, luckily, tech can provide some respite for you. The latest tech devices for kids can be a rich source of entertainment and, yes, education, for a child. From reading to being read to, educational games and some movies (well, a few couldn't hurt), there's plenty out there to keep everyone happy.
We take a look at some of the best kids tech tech that can provide parental salvation in the pandemic.
Amazon Kindle Kids Edition
It seems like a no-brainer really – an ebook reader aimed at kids. Amazon has been producing a child-friendly tablet for years, but it's taken the company a while to produce an e-reader equivalent.
On the surface, the Kindle Kids Edition seems very similar to the standard Kindle, and there's a reason for that – physically, they're pretty much identical. However, Amazon has added a bunch of features and options to the Kids edition that parents and young readers will really appreciate.
Valid for two years, if your child drops, stamps on, or flings their Kindle into traffic, Amazon will replace it, free of charge.
Firstly, like the Kids Fire Tablet, it has a two year no-quibble warranty. We really can't stress enough what a great selling point this is. Valid for two years, if your child drops, stamps on, or flings their Kindle into traffic, Amazon will replace it, free of charge.
It also comes with a year's free subscription to Free Time Unlimited, which gives kids access to a virtual library of thousands of titles, including the likes of Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
There's a lot more to say about the Kindle Kids Edition, and you can read our full hands on review, but we think it's a low cost way to keep young minds busy, while also offering you some much needed silence.
- Two year warranty
- Cover included
- Dedicated child features
- More expensive than the standard model
Buy on Amazon
You can be forgiven for not having heard of the Yoto Player before – it's a relatively new device that was officially launched this year, following on from a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The Yoto Player is certainly popular with its audience, as we found out when we let two youngsters have free rein with it.
The Yoto Player is an audiobook reader, designed primarily for kids who want to run their own entertainment at story time. It uses NFC-enabled story cards that you slot into the top of the device. Plus, with large round dials to control the Yoto Player, it's a simple bit of tech that any child will be able to get to grips with in seconds.
Good luck wrestling it back from their grip though, because this thing is certainly popular with its audience, as we found out in our hands on review, when we let two youngsters have free rein with it.
The book cards can be purchased separately, and there's a library of over one hundred to choose from, with more being regularly added. Yoto has also told us that a future firmware update will enable the Yoto Player to act as a Bluetooth speaker, which will open up its practicality even more.
- Easy to use
- No distracting screens
- Wide range of titles
- Books purchased separately
Choose a Kids Tablet
If you've been stuck indoors during the pandemic, then you've probably regularly reached for your tablet, only to find that it's missing. To find it, just follow the sounds of the Paw Patrol theme song, where you'll find your dear child engrossed in an episode and clutching it with sticky fingers.
Maybe, just maybe, now is the time to splash out and buy them their very own tablet, if only to protect your own. There are plenty of kids tablets to choose from that your child will be thrilled to call their own.
Our top pick is the Amazon Fire Kids Edition. As we mentioned with the Kids Kindle Edition, the stand out feature here is that no quibble two year warranty. If it gets broken, no matter what the reason you'll get a free replacement.
We happen to think it's one of the best deals in tech, and any parent is bound to agree. Oh, and the tablet isn't bad either to be honest. The best model is probably the 8-inch HD Fire tablet, though the cheapest by far is the 7-inch model. You can check our full guide to Which Amazon Tablet is Best for more.
Apple's iPad range is a great choice, whether you're a child who just wants to play Roblox, or a boring grown up with a mortgage and nasal hair.
If budget isn't a barrier, then you won't be surprised to hear that Apple's iPad range is a great choice, whether you're a child who just wants to play Roblox, or a boring grown up with a mortgage and nasal hair. You might be tempted by the iPad Mini, given its diminutive size, but the standard iPad is – paradoxically – cheaper, and while not quite as powerful, would be our recommendation for small Apple fans. See our guide to Which iPad Should You Buy for more.
- Special 'kid-proof' case
- 2 year guarantee
- Cheapest Kids Fire tablet
- Will struggle with complex apps
- Low resolution screen
Buy on Amazon
Video Chat for Kids
If you're unable to visit relatives or friends, your kids will likely be missing out on their play dates, and being showered with cookies by elderly relatives. The cookie situation you can fix, but the socializing it a little more difficult.
Video chat has boomed during the pandemic, and for good reason. It enables us to keep up with business meetings, speak to friends, and ensure our family are coping well. For children especially, it can be an absolute lifeline, and provide a distraction from staring at the same four walls.
Services like Zoom, HouseParty and the classics like Google Hangouts and Apple's FaceTime all do a great job of keeping us in touch. If you find that young ones are having trouble thinking of something to say, here are a few ideas to keep the conversation going, tried and tested by Tech.co staff:
- Invent a quiz – Help your child create a quiz for friends and relatives. How well does Grandma really know her Toy Story? Children can keep a score, and will really enjoy coming up with their own questions to stump others.
- Take a quiz – As well as asking questions, kids love to ask them too! Ask friends to come up with some brain teasers for them to answer.
- Bedtime stories – If your family feel like they're missing out, ask them to use video chat to read to the young ones at bed time.
- Games – Apps like House Party have a selection of games that can be played over video chat, all from within the app itself.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt – Get the person on the video call to ask your child to find something in the house and show it to them. Something green. Something beginning with “A”. Too easy? Give them a 10 second time limit!
Online Educational Resources
The swathe of school closures across America has meant that many children are stuck at home without access to teachers or educational material. The good news is that many sites have opened up their resources and made them available during the pandemic, as well as many more that were always free.
For budding coders, there are plenty of sites where your child can flex their gray matter. Websites like Code.org are a great introduction to the world of coding, adopting a simple drag and drop system, as well using well known franchises to bring the concepts to life, including Star Wars, Frozen and Minecraft.
For a sense of routine and traditional timetabling, Scholastic's ‘Learn at Home‘ initiative is a series of home learning tools with a daily structure, for up to grade 9. With topics from the future of zoos to the science of rain, the three week program will be a welcome focus in these times.
Just because you're stuck indoors, it doesn't mean you can travel the world. Plenty of online venues are offering virtual tours, from museums to zoos and even theme parks. Get up close and personal with exhibits without the crowds by taking a online tour from your sofa. Highlights include The Louvre, The Smithsonian, with a brilliant 360 degree view, Houston Zoo's live animal cams, and Disney World. You can even take a virtual tour of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the world's first ever university museum, which opened in 1683.
With the whole world at your fingertips, and the right tech to guide you, you've every chance to keep your child both entertained and educated while at home.
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