October 15, 2019
As any parent knows, a tablet can be a godsend when trying to entertain your kids. Pop a screen in front of a child and they’ll be quiet for hours. Naturally, we’re not condoning that you use them as a substitute childminder – but if your son or daughter doesn’t already have one, they’re no doubt eyeing up yours.
If you want to keep your beloved tablet free of cracks and sticky fingerprints, invest in a dedicated one for your favorite rugrat. They’ll be happy, and you’ll never pick up your tablet again only to find it covered in peanut butter/jelly/mysterious fluids (we’ve all been there).
For our money, the best kids tablet is one of Amazon’s dedicated Fire Kids tablets. These are not only robust, but also well priced. For older kids, an iPad is also a great choice, and will have the upshot of making you the parent of the year in your kids’ eyes (for a day or two, at least).
We’re also here to run through some of the questions you frequently ask when looking at kids tablets, as well as some buying advice so you know what to look for.
Which is the Best Tablet for Kids?
While there’s no shortage of tablets out there to consider, we’ve narrowed it down to some of the best on the market. We still think that the Amazon Fire and iPad models are the best choice, but see what you think in our comparison table:
- Apple iPad 9.7 – An excellent tablet for older kids
- Apple iPad 10.2 – A great budget large screen tablet
- Apple iPad Mini – A child-friendly size with plenty of power
- Amazon Fire 7 Kids – Amazon's budget child tablet
- Amazon Fire 8 HD Kids – Cheap and cheerful HD tablet
- Amazon Fire 10 HD Kids – Amazon's premium kids tablet
- DragonTouch YXX8 – A no thrills budget option
- Lenovo Tab 4 10 – A large-screen Android alternative
Scroll right on mobile to see full table
Best for: Kids who are always nabbing your iPad
Everyone knows this classic iPad – in fact, chances are your children already know their way around its friendly user interface better than you do. At $329, it’s hardly cheap, but its beefy A10 processor and large screen make it a great choice for everything from apps to streaming. It’s also reassuringly tough, able to survive the odd knock, and has an excellent 10+ hour battery life. It's since been surpassed by the newer 10.2-inch iPad, although it could be a good opportunity to find deal on old stock.
Fancy an iPad yourself? Check out our guide to the range.
Verdict: The entry-level iPad may not be for the budget-conscious, but it's hard to beat
- Retina screen
- Long battery life
- Pleasing sound
Best for: Older kids who want a large screen
Movies, YouTube and games look great on a large screen, so your child might be eyeing up the recently announced iPad 10.2-inch model, which replaced the standard 9.7 model at the end of September. It keeps the same processor, cameras and storage as the 2018 model, but for the same price, that bigger screen is bound to be attractive.
Fancy an iPad yourself? Check out our guide to the range.
Verdict: Yes, it's one of the pricier options here, but the iPad 10.2-inch model will last for years and be a great entertainment and education device.
- Large screen
- Long battery life
- Retina display
- Expensive for a kids tablet
Best for: Older kids that need a higher-end tablet
The 2019 iPad Mini is a powerful tablet, with even more horsepower than the larger 10.2-inch model. Its smaller form factor makes it a perfect choice for younger hands, although it’s one of the pricier models we’d recommend. The good news is that if you opt for the Mini, it will be years before you need to upgrade again. Starting at $399, we’d recommend taking out Apple Care for $3.49 a month, just for peace of mind in case of any mishaps.
Verdict: An excellent choice for older kids who need a powerful tablet
- Long lasting
Best for: Younger children
Amazon’s entry-level kids tablet can’t hold a candle to an iPad – but then again, it’s only $99, comes with a protective case, and has a two year, no quibble guarantee, which some parents might find all but essential. Like all Fire tablets, it’s built on the Android system, but uses Amazon’s proprietary FireOS. This means that it seamlessly ties in with all existing Amazon services, and even has its own Amazon app store. Sure, it’s no powerhouse, but it’s 7-inch screen is a good size for smaller children, and the tie in with Amazon services make it a great choice for those already deep in the Amazon ecosystem.
For more information, read our Amazon Fire tablet guide.
Verdict: An excellent first tablet for younger users
- Exceptional value
- Two year guarantee
- Kid-friendly case
Amazon Fire 8 HD Kids Edition
Best for: Compromise of specs and budget
As the name suggests, the Kids 8 HD is a step up from the Kids 7 tablet. For an extra thirty bucks, you get a lot more for your money, including stereo speakers, an HD screen, more RAM, more storage, and better battery life. In fact, we’d recommend it over the Fire 7 all day long. Naturally, you also get that protective case, as well as the Amazon guarantee. It’s slightly larger than its cheaper predecessor, but still not too big for younger children to hold comfortably. It’s worth remembering that like all Kids Fire tablets, the Fire 8 HD is essentially the standard Fire 8 tablet, but with kid-friendly features reflecting its higher price. If you can trust your child to look after their tablet, the standard Fire 8 HD is the cheaper option.
Verdict: The best budget kids tablet out there
- Exceptional battery
- 2 year guarantee
- Robust case
Amazon Fire 10 HD Kids Edition
Best for: Kids after a large screen display
This is Amazon’s top end kids tablet, but it still won’t break the bank. Recently updated with a faster processor, at $199, it’s still considerably cheaper than anything that Apple can offer. Keep in mind that in terms of specs, it’s still no match for the cheapest iPad. If your child isn’t bothered about the ongoing arms race in the tablet world though, and prefers their chips to be served in a Pringles tube rather than on a motherboard, they’ll be more than happy with the Fire 10 HD. The 10-inch screen might be a little large for smaller kids, but older children will appreciate the screen real estate for gaming and streaming.
Verdict: A great value, large screen tablet
- 10-inch HD display
- Exceptional battery
- 2 year guarantee
- Robust case
- Can’t compete with iPad’s power
Dragon Touch YXX8
Best for: Tight budgets
Dragon Touch is a highly popular kids brand of tablets on Amazon, no doubt helped by its official Disney tie-in, which offers exclusive apps and stories from the House of Mouse. It’s a standard Android tablet with a kid-friendly interface, and includes typical features like a web browser (albeit one tweaked to only show child friendly content). It’s ace in the hole is the price. At $70, it seems like great value, even compared to the Amazon Fire Kids 7, which costs you thirty bucks more. However, we still think that Amazon’s tablet should be your priority. Why? Well, while the specs between the two models aren’t wildly different, there’s one key area where the YXX8 falls down – the battery only lasts for around 3 hours, compared to 7 hours you get with the Fire 7. You’ll be constantly charging this while your child impatiently waits for it to be ready. Is that really worth a $30 saving? We don’t think so.
Verdict: Very cheap, but poor battery life is a massive warning sign
- Protective case
- That three hour battery life
Lenovo Tab 4 10
Best for: Those after a larger tablet, but still on a budget
The Lenovo Tab 4 10 is a large screen tablet that offers pretty good value for what you get. At first glance, it might not seem the most obvious choice for a kids tablet, but with a dedicated kid friendly account system that decks out the tablet with a more colorful and easy to use interface, and dedicated cases available too (sold separately), there’s a lot to like here – especially for that $160 price tag. The 32GB memory size might not be too generous, but the inclusion of a Micro SD card slot means you can cheaply add more storage as and when you need it.
Verdict: An excellent budget choice for a large screen tablet
- Dedicated kids mode
- Large display
- Well priced
- Not much storage included
Buying a Tablet for Kids FAQs
Should I Get an iPad for My Child?
iPads are the most popular tablet on the market, and there’s a reason for that – Apple has been putting out a consistently powerful and desirable product for almost a decade, refining it year by year. Chances are your child already identifies the iPad as THE tablet.
We wouldn’t recommend getting an iPad for a young child or toddler. With the cheapest model costing $329, it’s a big expense to trust in the hands of your offspring, and you’ll be the one that gets upset when they drop it in the toilet or use it as a frisbee. It’s also way too overpowered for anything a small child would want to use it for.
For older kids though, absolutely. The key thing about an iPad is that if you look after it, it will last you, or your loved one, for years – and you won’t need to upgrade for some time. What starts off as an entertainment device for streaming Peppa Pig for a young child, could also still be serving them in a different capacity as a homework tool when they get to school.
How Much Does a Kids Tablet Cost?
The real question is, how much do you want to spend? A kids tablet could be anywhere from $50 (although don’t buy one that cheap) up to $400. It depends on the age of the child, and how much power they need for their device. We think a good starting point is the Amazon Kids Fire 7, which is $99 and a great value tablet for a first device.
Can I Put Parental Controls on a Tablet?
Yes! Most tablets will allow you to adjust at a granular level what your child can have access to, and this is especially true for kid-focused tablets.
Lots of apps now let you set parental controls for screen time – even the World Health Organization recommends cutting back the number of hours children spend on tablets and phones.
You’ll also find that you can restrict access to certain apps, block social media, set age gates for TV and movies, stop your child from playing multiplayer games, or prevent them from downloading any apps without your permission. You can lock up as much, or as little of a tablet as you want, and then can grant access to certain features as the child gets older.
Can I Stop Kids from Buying things on the Tablet?
Absolutely. It will only take you one experience of your darling child spending $50 on in-app purchases or movies for you to find this out. With many apps selling cosmetic items and extra levels, it’s all too easy for a child to nonchalantly click a button and not see the consequences.
All tablets have a verification system in place, which will ask for a password before any purchases can be made. As long as you don’t let slip the password to your child (and don’t make it too easy for them to guess), they’ll have to come to you for sign off on any purchases.
Should I Get a Kid-Focused Tablet?
There are tablets out there aimed at kids that are closer to toys than traditional tablets. The Leap Frog Innotab range is a good example. While they have their place, we don’t necessarily recommend them. Kids will tend to outgrow them fairly quickly, and they can also reinforce the notion that tablets are toys.
If you get a ‘real’ tablet, and teach your child to look after it, it will last them a lot longer than one of these child-focused models. While the kid-friendly interface and ready-to-go apps might appeal, the likes of the Amazon Fire Kids range has an equally good, colorful menu system, and with a little curation, you can download the apps that your child will love best.
Do Tablets Break Easily?
Tablets have been toughened up over the years, with stronger cases and more resilient screens – but there’s only so much hammering they can take. You’ll find that usually those models aimed at children will be more robust, or have dedicated cases.
Amazon has gone all out with its Fire Kids range, offering not only bright, rubbery bumper cases that protect the tablets from drops, but also factoring a 2 year guarantee into the price. If the tablet breaks, for whatever reason, you get a replacement. It’s a wonderful selling point, and one that’s really tough to beat.
If you’re looking at an iPad, we’d suggest also taking out Apple Care for a few dollars a month, to cover the device should it suffer a mishap.
Should I Buy That Cheap Tablet I Saw on Amazon/eBay/Craigslist?
No, probably not. There are plenty of cheap tablets out there, usually from no-name, Chinese manufacturers, with ‘too good to be true’ pricing. We recommend steering clear for several reasons. Firstly, if it’s a brand name you don’t recognise, you can’t be sure of its pedigree, or whether the tablet will even have an English language interface. It’s also likely to offer little to no after-sales support.
Then there are the safety concerns. With cheap imported tablets, you can’t be sure that the devices have gone through the rigorous testing that is demanded by the US Government – for the sake of saving a few dollars, it just isn’t worth the risk.
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