Stop handing over your iPad and get your kids a tablet of their own
If you’re tired of handing over your phone or tablet to the kids, maybe it’s time to give them a tablet they can call their own. I recommend the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for its parental controls, apps, and learning tools. There are a lot of tablets out there. These are my top picks.
Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
This is a full-featured Fire HD 8 wrapped in a protective kid-proof case. The case, available in blue, pink, or yellow, is soft to the touch, easy to grip, and withstands drops and dings like nobody’s business. There are 32-gigabytes of internal storage in this model. Pop in a microSD card and you can expand storage space to 400-gigabytes. You’ll also get two cameras; one on the front and the other on the back.
One year of FreeTime Unlimited is included in this bundle. That gives kids access to more than 20,000 apps, games, videos, books, audiobooks, and educational content. As a parent, you control content choices through the Amazon Parent Dashboard online or via an app. You can set educational goals for your children, screen time limits, and filter content by age. You can also share a tablet with your children by setting up a profile for each child and one for yourself. Sweet!
Like all basic tablets, overloading the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition will cause everything to come to a slow, laggy halt. It doesn’t happen often, but certain games can set kids on a downward spiral of frustration. A quick restart is enough to get them up and running again. For car rides, free time, and learning, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a smart choice that you and your kids will enjoy.
- 8″ HD display
- 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited included
- Kid-proof case included
- 10-hour battery life
- 400GB expandable storage
- Hardware can be laggy
Best Value: Samsung Galaxy E Lite
The Samsung Galaxy Kids Tab E Lite is a 7″ tablet with a brightly colored bumper case. The protective cover is easy for kids to grip and hold and prevents damage from drops and bumps. This model comes with the tablet, a bumper case, USB charging cable, travel adapter, and a quick-start guide. This tablet comes with 8-gigabytes of memory, which can be expanded up to 32-gigabytes with the purchase of a microSD card.
There’s a catalog of more than one million apps available for download in the Google Play Store. Parental controls give you the ability to keep a watchful eye on your child’s activities and well as set limits on screen time, choose off-limit apps, and protect your wallet from unwanted purchases. The battery lasts up to nine hours per charge, so it’s a good companion for kids during long car rides. The rear-facing camera is a fun way for kids to capture images of the world around them.
Perhaps the best feature of the Samsung Galaxy Kids Tab E Lite is the availability of STEM and Common Core curriculum. Outstanding! The flip side is that these educational games and tools are available only through Samsung Kids, the same app you use to control screentime and monitor your kids’ activities. You get Samsung Kids free for three months, but after that, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. If you’re willing to shell out a bit each month for the convenience, this is a solid tablet for younger children.
- Parental controls
- Lots of apps
- 9-hour battery life
- Supports STEM and Common Core curriculum
- Rear-facing camera
- Monthly subscription required for Samsung Kids
Best for Older Kids: Apple iPad
Apple’s iPad really needs no introduction. Everything you love about your iPad, kids will too. If you’re using the iPad naked, it’s a better choice for teens or those who have enough coordination to avoid dinging the corners of this tablet or dropping it. For younger kids, there are numerous shockproof cases available to make this work.
The latest iPad comes equipped with a gorgeous 9.7″ Retina display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 8-megapixel back-facing camera, and a 1.2-megapixel HD front camera. When investing in an iPad, you’ll get access to more than two million apps, as well as games, TV shows, and movies. Parents can take control of content and usage by using Screen Time. Doing this lets you block apps, limit app usage, prevent app purchases, restrict Siri web searching, and more.
I have one gripe with the iPad, and that’s it’s bottom-facing speakers. It’s tough to hear well with the iPad in your lap. Of course, you can flip the iPad upside down or move it into landscape mode and the problem is solved. Still, I’d love to see the speakers moved. That minor quibble aside, there’s nothing quite like an iPad. From the beautiful display to the sheer number of apps to the powerful processor, you can’t go wrong when investing in Apple.
- Gorgeous Retina display
- 10-hour battery life
- Millions of apps
- Good parental controls
- Speakers located on the bottom
Best for Wee Ones: Dragon Touch Y88X Pro
Running on Android, the all-new Dragon Touch Y88X Pro is a 7″ tablet covered by a shockproof silicone case. The back of the case has a kickstand, so kids can prop the tablet up on a table or the floor to watch movies, read books, and play games. There are 16-gigabytes of storage space, and that’s expandable to 128-gigabytes with a microSD card.
This tablet comes preloaded with Disney books and audiobooks, and you can also download games, videos, and books from the Google Play Store or via Dragon Touch’s Store. Services like YouTube Kids, Netflix, and Skype are also available. Parent controls help you manage what you want your child to see and do on their tablet, and eliminate those things you’d rather they not view.
This is a sturdy, cute tablet that toddlers and younger kids will enjoy. There are a couple of “buts” to include. First, this tablet has a short battery life. On average, the battery lasts three to five hours but seems to drain quite a bit even when not in use. Also, it gets a bit glitchy when certain apps are used, causing it to freeze up. Restarting the tablet is the only quick fix for the latter problem. For the very young, this tablet will keep kids entertained, help them learn, and give them something to do on car trips.
- Protective silicone case
- Expandable to 128GB
- Parental controls
- Access to lots of apps
- Preloaded with Disney content
- Short battery life
- Can be slow
Best Learning Tool: LeapFrog LeapPad Ultimate
LeapFrog has been creating technology for kids for years, and they’re experts at making learning fun. Designed for kids 3-6 years of age, the LeapFrog LeapPad Ultimate comes with a 7″ shatter-safe screen and bumpers to protect your investment. This bundle comes with the tablet, rechargeable battery, stylus, AC adapter, and a USB cord.
A vast library of content is available, including more than 1,000 apps and learning games that engage and motivate younger children. Made specifically to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten, the tablet comes preloaded with school readiness apps, music apps, and games that inspire creativity and teach basic problem-solving skills.
Parental controls are built-in. You have options to password protect the tablet, set time limits on play, and customize your child’s experience based on age and maturity level. My only real gripe is that your child will be ready to move on from this tablet within a year or two. If you have other kids coming up, it’s an excellent investment. If not, you’re paying for a toy that your child will outgrow. That’s true for many toys, of course. If you can make it work, the LeapFrog LeapPad is an adventurous way for young ones to learn the basics of reading and writing while having fun.
- Shatter-safe screen
- Large library of learning games
- Includes stylus
- Protective case
- Kids will outgrow it in a year or two
The Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite is a 10.1″ tablet with a beautiful FHD 1080p display. Inside you’ll find quad Harman Kardon-tuned speakers that let you pump up the volume and, 3-gigabytes of RAM, plus a 32FB ROM HDD, which is expandable to 256-gigabytes with a microSD card. In short, this is the tablet your kids want and need if they consider themselves creatives.
The battery on this tablet is phenomenal. It lasts 12-hours and can charge in less than 3-hours. Outstanding! With two 8-megapixel cameras on the front and rear and backed by a powerful processor, this tablet can handle almost anything that comes its way. This is a solid choice for drawing, coloring, gaming, watching and creating movies, and more.
This is a pricey tablet, but it is worth it for budding creatives and gaming kids. It does come preloaded with a handful of Huawei apps that drain the battery. You can uninstall or disable the apps if you find you don’t need them or don’t want them running in the background. If you can swing the steep price tag, this is a brilliant tablet that does everything well.
- Superb sound
- 12-hour battery life
- M Pen stylus included
- Powerful processor
- Lots of storage space
- Comes preloaded with apps
Putting technology into your child’s hands is always a little scary. The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet is a stress-free way to introduce your young ones to tech while still giving you a measure of control. The FreeTime Unlimited software gives you and your kids the ability to download and use more than 20,000 apps, games, books, and videos. As a parent, you decide what you want your child exposed to and for how long, and the tablet makes recommendations. If you don’t think a particular game or book is age-appropriate, you can remove it. It’s as simple as that.
Parent controls on the Fire HD 8 are fantastic. Via an app or the Amazon Dashboard, you can personalize screen time limits, set educational goals, filter content by age, and also manage web browsing permissions. If more than one child is sharing the device, profiles can be created for each child. The tablet is customizable by user, so even you can use it if you like. The screen is bright and beautiful, and the sound is excellent for movies and books,
The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition now has Spanish language content. There are currently just over 1,000 apps, books, and films in Spanish included, and more are added frequently. Audiobooks can be listened to as well, which is a great way to introduce the younger generation to new reading material and imaginative tales. The Fire HD 8 lags a little when resource-intensive games are played. Even after closing out of the game, you’ll experience jittery scrolling. This can be rectified with a quick restart. Overall, the best tablet for your money is the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for the well thought out parental controls and available apps, games, and movies.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jodi Owan is a freelance technology and outdoor adventure writer and photographer. Find her on Instagram and her website.
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