Tablet devices are quickly becoming more popular than both laptop and desktop computers, even for younger kids thanks to their relatively low price, versatility and user-friendly features. Tablets can serve double-duty as both entertainment devices and educational tools for kids; most apps geared towards the under-12 crowd combine skill development with fun activities that encourage young users to learn skills like reading, math and languages.
How To Choose a Kid-Friendly Tablet Computer
Which tablet device you choose for your child depends largely on their age and technical skills combined with your budget. Consider how you expect the tablet to be used – are you looking for a simple, low-cost non-networked device to introduce your child to basic computing and electronic-based learning, or do you want a full-featured kid-friendly tablet that includes options like Wi-Fi connectivity, parental controls and memory expansion slots?
Tablets for Toddlers and Children under 5
For toddlers and children under 5, look for a rugged, simple tablet that comes pre-loaded with a range of apps geared towards young kids such as interactive learning-based games. At this age, ease of use and durability are more important than technical features like Wi-Fi capabilities and camera resolution – in fact, most experts recommend against Wi-Fi-enabled tablets for young children due to concerns over Internet content.
Tablets for Kids Aged 6-11
School-aged kids tend to be fairly tech-savvy these days; popular features on tablets for this age group include cameras, SD expansion slots, HDMI-ports and the option to connect to Wi-Fi networks. Look for a tablet that offers built-in parental control apps that make it easy to regulate Internet use as well as place time limits on usage.
To help narrow down your choices, we’ve researched the latest kid-friendly tablets for 2013; here’s our picks for the 6 best tablets for kids:
Childrens Learning Tablet
The LeapPad2 Explorer Learning Tablet is the latest kid-friendly learning tablet from LeapFrog. This education-focused device is geared towards children aged 3-9 and comes pre-loaded with five apps along with access to over 300 additional apps that can be downloaded directly from LeapFrog.
Available with either a green or pink frame surrounding the 5″ screen, this kid-sized tablet comes equipped with two onboard cameras (front and rear) that allow users to take still photos and record both video and audio. Power comes from 4 AA batteries and the integrated motion sensor helps kids develop fine motor skills while parents can monitor learning progress through LeapFrog’s own Learning Path system.
Educational Tablet by LEXIBOOK
Another low-cost tablet that’s geared towards toddlers is the LEXIBOOK Yaye My First Educational Tablet; a basic device that introduces young children to the world of computing through colorful games that teach vocabulary, numbers, colors and shapes. This economical no-frills tablet includes 15 bilingual cards (English/Spanish) that are designed to provide hours of educational entertainment to both parents and their children. The Yaye is powered with 4 AAA batteries and the compact screen is encased in a durable blue and white frame that makes it easy for small hands to hold.
Cheap Kids Tablet by Fisher-Price
Geared towards pre-schoolers, the Fun-2-Learn Smart Tablet from Fisher-Price is a fun,very cheap and affordable way to teach children the basics of touch-screen computing. This colorful non-expandable tablet comes pre-loaded with 6 game modules in both English and Spanish that teach children the alphabet, numbers and phonics as well as simple music skills and shape recognition. Powered by 4 AA batteries, this durable handheld device also has a built-in kickstand for use on a table or desk, making it easy to use in any environment.
7 Inch Tablet for Kids
Sporting a rugged bright red rubberized bumper case, this kid-centric tablet has a 7″ capacitative touch screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution, perfect for watching videos, playing games and reading e-books. Powered by a nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor paired with 1GB of DDR3 SD-RAM and 8GB of onboard flash storage (expandable up to 32GB using an SD card), the NABI runs on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 OS.
The NABI was designed to be a full-featured tablet that will grow with the child; it offers a 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connection as well as Bluetooth 3.0. Jacks include a micro USB port, mini HDMI, DC connector, and a standard 3.5mm audio/headphone jack along with a micro-SD card slot. The front-facing 2MP camera supports 720p video recording, while the built-in microphone enables users to play interactive audio-based games, make VoIP calls and add sound to their home movies. Parental control features include App Zone 2.0, a collection of over 500 educational and entertainment apps targeted towards kids and Mommy/Daddy Mode, a password-protected setting that allows parents to add and remove kid-safe limits on content and Internet use.
7″ Kindle Fire by Amazon
While the Kindle Fire isn’t marketed specifically to kids, it offers numerous kid-friendly features in a mid-priced Wi-Fi-enabled tablet. This 7″ capacitative-touchscreen tablet delivers ultra-fast web browsing and it weighs just 400 grams, making it easy for kids to hold and carry. The advanced display is designed to withstand minor bumps, making it durable enough for regular use by kids and adults.
The Kindle Fire comes pre-loaded with the Kindle FreeTime app, allowing parents to set custom limits on the content their children have access to as well as the amount of time kids can use the tablet each day. Amazon Prime subscribers can access age-rated content such as educational games, movies and e-books.
Apple iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi
Apple’s latest tablet device, the iPad Mini, is gaining popularity among parents and educators as a sophisticated kid-friendly mobile computing tool, especially for tech-savvy children aged 8 and older. Although it carries a high price tag in comparison to the other tablets on our list, families that already use Mac computer products will appreciate the familiarity of Apple’s iOS 6 along with the ultra-clear 7.9 inch LED-backlit multi-touch screen, the dual 1.2MP/5MP cameras and the wide assortment of built-in apps.
The iPad Mini delivers up to 10 hours of use per charge, making it a good choice for families that travel frequently while networking options include both Wi-Fi and cellular (on specific models). To make this
tablet more kid-friendly, consider protecting it with an aftermarket rubberized case and transparent screen protector