Tablets and kids go together like weaponry and psychopaths: if you’ve ever tried to pry an iPad from a four-year-old’s fingers you’ll know just how alluring tablets are for kids of any age. And if like us you’re on first-name terms with your local mobile device screen repairer, you’ll know that it’s best to keep the kids away from your own devices.
The good news is that there’s never been a better time to buy a tablet for your child, and you don’t need to spend as much money as you might think.
Our favourite tablet for kids at the moment is the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition
Bear in mind storage space, speed and processing power. This may sound a bit like gobbledygook to you, so our list provides you with all the information you require to make an informed purchase. Keep an eye out for kids tablets that have the option to increase the storage if you are unsure of how the tablet will be used.
Our priorities are very different when we’re buying for children. Processing power matters much less than parental controls and long battery life, and exterior design doesn’t matter when it’s going to spend all its time in a protective case, covered in crumbs. For younger children we think parental control options are paramount: it’s all too easy for a child to stumble upon content that’s utterly inappropriate on popular sites such as YouTube.
If you’re considering an Apple, Android or Amazon (rebranded Android) tablet then the choice of apps isn’t an issue, but with proprietary tablets the selection is much more limited and sometimes much more expensive. It’s worth thinking about what your child is likely to want in a year from now, not just today: a child that’s quite happy with Peppa Pig clips now may well be a proficient platform gamer just months later. A tablet that can’t grow with your child is a tablet that’ll end up gathering dust.
Let’s find the best tablets for children of all ages.
The Fire 7 Kids Edition is currently £99.99, but don’t pay that: Amazon seems to cut its price for every sales promotion from Prime Day and Black Friday to We Haven’t Had A Sales Event For Two Weeks Day. At nearly £100 it’s good value; at nearer £70 it’s a steal. We have two, and they’re in constant use.
What makes the Fire 7 so good isn’t just the price. It’s the Amazon ecosystem. It comes with a year of Amazon Fire for Kids, which means your children can download tons of apps and content from the likes of Disney without paying anything. The parental controls are excellent, the provided case is nice and tough and in the unlikely event that you break it, Amazon will send you a new one for free.
When you buy an Apple, Android or Amazon tablet you still need to supervise things: the ads in some age-appropriate games are anything but, and even apparently innocuous apps such as YouTube Kids can contain really disturbing content. That’s not an issue with the LeapPad, which lives in its own educator-approved world. You can be confident that no matter what app your child uses, they’re not going to be interrupted with a screaming advert for Gory Hell Exploding Innards 3.
It’s been designed with education in mind and boasts first-class parental controls along with a library of over 1,000 educator-approved apps (ten come with the device), and that’s both its strength and its weakness: the library is good, but the content is expensive. For example, the Paw Patrol problem solving game is £7.50 as a digital download; Paw Patrol apps on the iPad are £1.99.
At £319 the iPad isn’t cheap – you can buy three Kindle Fires for the same cash – but it’s hands down the best tablet for anybody of any age unless you want to spend even more on an iPad Pro. Apple’s family sharing makes it easy to manage kids’ apps and subscriptions, the already decent parental controls will get a massive upgrade with the imminent iOS 12, and if your child is older and studying or about to study at university you can get an educational discount.
£319 sounds like a lot, but it’s actually £80 less than the iPad mini. That has more storage but the bigger iPad is more powerful, and we can’t think of many reasons to want a smaller, more expensive iPad when the normal one is so good. The mini doesn’t support Apple Pencil either (that’s not included with any iPad: it’s another £89).
One thing the iPad isn’t is tough. Our resident 4-year-old scratched our iPad’s supposedly tough glass in seconds, and we’ve lost track of the smashed iPad screens we’ve had over the years. Replacing iPad screens isn’t cheap and the results are often disappointing, so a really good, child-proof case isn’t an optional extra. It’s essential.
Why purchase a device for the adults and a device for the children when the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 is great for both? Unlike the first two products, we wouldn’t call this device particularly ‘kiddified’. It doesn’t come with a protective case and it doesn’t come with any parental controls or child-friendly apps installed. So why is it on our list? The good thing is, the installation of these functions is perfectly possible with the Android platform. And with the hi-res display, your children won’t have any complaints when watching their wonderful programs in the back of the car either! This is a great tablet for children who don’t want their kids spending hours in front of tech as you can completely control what goes on it and it has the added bonus of Mum and Dad being able to use it when the little nippers are in bed.
Firstly, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that the Apple iPad Mini 2 is more than double the price of the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition. That’s because this device, first and foremost, hasn’t been designed to to be handed over to a 3 year old. Instead, it’s been built to perform to ‘adult standards’, which is why for the price, it’s pretty good as an all-age product.
The good thing is, parental controls and your child’s favourite games can be quickly installed, so you can fully regulate what they do, where they go and what they watch on the device. Pretty useful if you want to hand it over in exchange for some peace and quiet. Yes it’s expensive, but, if you have a pre-teen who wants to feel grown-up and join the Apple world, this is the best tablet for older kids.
The HD 8 is an inch larger diagonally than the HD 7, and it doubles the internal storage, ups the speakers from mono to stereo with Dolby Atmos support and gets another 4 hours of its battery. As with the 7, don’t pay the RRP: wait for Amazon to discount it.
It also offers 4 more hours of battery life to give 12 hours in total- great if you’re planning on a long-haul trip to Disneyland in the near future! As an added bonus, the screen is a higher resolution, which means if you want to take it away for half an hour (good luck with that!) to catch up with your own tele, you can do so without compromising on picture quality.
As with the Amazon Fire 7, parental controls and a year of Fire For Kids Unlimited is included too. If you’re kids have already got a tablet and you are looking to upgrade, this feature rich option is a great buy.
It may be the cheapest on our list but in terms of what you get for your money, it’s a pretty valuable buy. Coming with its own coloured case, this 7” kids tablet arrives primed and ready to be dropped and drooled over while providing children with a safe and controlled platform on which to access their favourite apps, videos and programs.
It comes with 8GB of available storage and a further 64GB is available to purchase if necessary. As mentioned, it is a little basic when it comes to resolution and performance power, but it’s more than adequate for the kids. If you have younger children and you’ve been toying with the idea of getting them a tablet, try this one.
There are tons, and we mean tons, of budget Android tablets out there – although it’s safe to say they’ve never really been a priority for Google, so the Android tablet experience isn’t as nice as Apple’s iPad or Amazon’s Fire. But who cares, when Lenovo can give you a ten-inch tablet running Android 6 for half the price of an iPad?
We’re picking Lenovo here because its tablets are well screwed together and widely discounted: where the 32GB model has an RRP of £199, it’s widely available for £50 less from the usual suspects. The quad-core processor is fine, the 12-hour battery life is useful for travelling, it’s not going to fall to pieces as you use it and you can install your own parental control app from the Google Play Store. If you want something as big as an iPad for half the price, this is well worth considering.