Your guide to the latest and best kids’ tablets. Check out our reviews and buyer’s guide on the top tablets for kids this year.
Tablet computers aren’t just for playing games, though that may be the attraction for many children. They are strong educational tools for everything from improving hand-to-eye coordination to learning in an entertaining way.
The best tablet for kid will depend on their age. LeapFrog and VTech make tablets which are well suited to young children from around 3-6. When kids reach around 6 or 7, they no longer want what they see as a ‘toddler’s tablet’ and will start asking for something a bit more grown up.
What to look for in a kids’ tablet
The advantages of a specially designed kids’ tablet include a ‘safe’ web browser (or no internet access) and games and pre-loaded apps which are appropriate for kids. What they don’t tend to have is a wide choice of the latest games. The LeapPads, for example, are great tablets, but your kids might be frustrated when they can’t get the same games or apps their friends have on Android or iPad.
And that’s why we rate Amazon’s range of Fire tablets. You can set up password-protected profiles so you can give each child access to only the books, games and apps you want them to see.
Plus, you can set different time limits for reading and playing. The fact that the range starts from just £49 is why we think the Amazon Fire is one of the best choices for kids right now.
Which specifications should a kids’ tablet have?
It’s best not to dwell too much on specs as they rarely tell you how good a tablet is for a child. Two things you should consider are battery life and screen size.
Many kids’ tablets last around half the time of an iPad – around five or six hours. They can, of course, use their tablet while it’s charging, but it’s worth avoiding any that don’t charge over USB as this makes it awkward to power them on long car journeys.
Younger kids might struggle with a 10in tablet, which is why the Amazon Fire is a good choice all round. Its 7in screen is just the right size for small hands.
Rather than looking at processor speeds and RAM, read our reviews to find out if a tablet is fast enough to keep up with your kids. Gigahertz ratings aren’t a helpful guide in this respect.
A third important aspect is storage. If the tablet you’re considering has no microSD card slot, you’ll have to start deleting apps, music, photos and more when the internal storage is full. It pays to get as much storage as you can, but it’s still important to have a microSD slot. Memory cards are cheap and even if a tablet doesn’t let you install apps on it, you can still use it for photos, videos and music.
Kids’ editions of regular tablets, notably from Amazon, offer greater robustness and a no-questions-asked replacement policy in this sector. While tablets from Apple are not built specifically for children, they are versatile and easy to use, and can be loaded with children’s apps such as Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s own product that teaches kids to code.
In terms of age-specific products, LeapFrog, the pre-eminent kids-only tablet brand specifies a three-to-nine years age range, but Apple and Amazon don’t target their products in the same way, though their devices are versatile enough to suit children of those ages and above.
Apps on children’s tablets are worth consideration. On Apple, parental control is limited to restricting access to connecting to the internet, the camera, buying or downloading apps, for instance. You can also control what ratings of movies can be downloaded. Others, like Lexibook, download through a dedicated store which creates its own controls. Amazon’s controls are the most detailed and complete.