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For busy parents, tablets have become a viable asset to keep kids entertained during times of boredom, like long car rides, when you need to get some work done, or simply when you need a break.
However, parents are naturally hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that their kid(s) will surely put to the test. But the good news is, you don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent tablet. You can find a device that offers plenty of educational content along with entertainment options and parental controls like limiting screen time so kids don't become glued to tech devices.
Below, you'll find a selection of tablets that are best for kids, according to real-life parents and parenting experts.
Tech specs: Display: 10.2-inch with True Tone | Processor: A13 Bionic chip | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Silver and space grey | Cameras: 8MP f/2.4 back, 12MP Ultra Wide f/2.4 front | Weight: 1.08 pounds | Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x .29 inches | Connections: USB-C, Smart Connector | Battery life: Up to 10 hours
Apple's tried-and-true tablet, the base model iPad, is a great tablet for kids. In fact, ZDNET's Jason Cipriani said Apple had "perfected the tablet equation" with it. You get all of the same features as the more expensive iPad Pro and iPad Air models, but in a lightweight form factor with a 10.2-inch display that has True Tone.
Although there's a newer iPad model, the 9th generation has pretty much all of the same features and costs about half of the price of the 2022 model at just $250. (I personally don't recommend spending $449 for the newer model for your child to use and abuse, unless you plan to share it with them.)
Read the review: Apple iPad (2021) review: If it's not broke, don't fix it
Early education experts agree.
Troy Portillo, director of operations of Studypool, an online learning platform for students, said that if you have younger kids in need of a tablet, you can't go wrong with Apple's iPad: "Your kid doesn't need the more expensive iPad Air or even the iPad Pro."
"You can still get all the great security features that come standard with Apple products, as well as the customer support. You can also easily monitor your kid's activity online, as well as limit screen time, and use parental controls for specific apps," he said.
Parents can control their kids' iPad experience through Apple's Family Sharing feature, which lets them limit screen time for specific apps, notifies if a child is trying to buy an app, and sends reminders like for family game night, among other things.
Tech specs: Display: 8-inch display | Processor: Hexa-core 2.0 Ghz | Storage: 32GB or 64GB (expandable by up to 1 TB) | Memory: 2GB | Colors: Blue, purple, Disney Mickey Mouse, or Disney princess | Cameras: 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording | Weight: 18.3 ounces | Dimensions: 8.7 x 7.1 x 1.1 inches| Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port | Battery life: 13 hours
Amazon just updated this tablet model last year, making it faster and giving it a longer battery life -- and it's still just $150. This tablet is geared toward younger children ages 3-7 years old.
Jeff Hunt, co-founder of Kid Travel and a dad and grandfather, told ZDNET that the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition stands out as the best option for kids due to its durability, kid-friendly interface, and educational and entertaining content.
"The tablet has a wide variety of educational and entertaining content that is appropriate for kids of all ages," he said. "The one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ provides access to over 20,000 books, videos, games, and educational apps. The tablet also features a child-friendly web browser that can be customized to access specific websites."
In addition, parents can control screen time and set educational goals for their children using the parental controls built into the tablet to make sure their kid is actually reading or learning something while using it.
Read the review: I bought this Amazon kids tablet instead of an iPad and wasn't sorry
The kid-friendly case protects against drops and bumps, and the completely adjustable stand lets kids can go hands-free. Plus, Amazon offers you a two-year worry-free guaruntee in case the tablet does succumb to playtime.
Tech specs: Display: 10.1-inch display | Processor: Octa-core 2.0 GHz | Storage: 32GB (expandable up to 1TB) | Memory: 3GB | Colors: Sky blue, black, doodle, intergalactic | Cameras: 2 MP front-facing and 5 MP rear-facing | Weight: 25.3 ounces | Dimensions: 7.4 x 10.1 x 0.7 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port | Battery life: 12 hours
For bigger kids (ages 6-12), there is Amazon's Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet. It was specifically made with this age group in mind. Thanks to the 10.1-inch display, you'll get a larger screen without adding much to the overall cost. The Kids Edition version comes with the same perks as the Fire 8 Kids Edition, including a protective case, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year subscription to Amazon Kids+.
Either way, you get Amazon's largest tablet with a 1080p display. It has a USB-C port for faster charging, and up to 12 hours of battery life. Performance isn't on par with an iPad, but in my experience testing, it's better than the Fire 7 or 8.
Read the review: Fire HD 10 review
ZDNET's Jason Cipriani, who has three children of his own, also went hands-on with the standard Fire HD 10 model and found that it too can serve as a solid entertainment device.
Tech specs: Display: 10.5 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | Processor: Octa Core Unisoc T618 | Storage: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, microSD up to 1TB | Cameras: 8MP rear, 5MP front camera | Weight: 1.12lbs | Dimensions: 9.72 x 6.37 x 0.27 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB 2.0 | Battery: 7,040mAh (About 6 hours)
If you'd rather your kid have a true Android tablet with full Google support, then look no further than the Galaxy Tab A8.
Parenting expert and creator of Parental Questions, Mo Mulla, told ZDNET that he highly recommends this tablet to parents.
"This tablet is packed with features that make it the perfect choice for parents looking to keep their children entertained and informed while they are away from home," he said. "Its kid-friendly content has been explicitly created with kids in mind and includes educational apps and games to help entertain them and keep them active during playtime."
Mulla is talking about Samsung Kids, which parents can easily access from any Samsung tablet. It lets parents give their kids access to specific contacts and apps, provides learning challenges for kids so they aren't just scrolling on an app, and kids can even play around with Samsung's unique animated characters.
While the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 won't blow you away with overall performance, it can run your favorite apps, handle light gaming, and stream movies and shows.
In addition, its expandable storage capacity ensures there is never a shortage of space on the device for downloads or extra materials when needed.
Tech specs: Display: 11-inch display | Processor: MediaTek Helio G90T | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Memory: 4GB or 6GB | Colors: Slate grey | Cameras: 8MP front and 13MP rear | Weight: 1.1lbs | Dimensions: 10.2 by 6.4 by 0.3 inches | Connections: USB-C, microSD | Battery: Up to 15 hours
Lenovo's Tab P11 Plus is an attractive tablet that's not overly expensive. The 11-inch 2K display looks fantastic, and the battery life will keep your child entertained for hours. The battery life is perhaps the best part of this tablet: Lenovo touts up to 15 hours of video streaming, and ZDNET tests have confirmed that is accurate. Plus, it runs Android 11 out of the box.
One downside to the Tab P11 Plus: It lacks a headphone jack, so if you want to keep your child's cartoons or games quiet, you'll have to invest in some kid-friendly Bluetooth headphones.
Read the review: Lenovo Tab P11 Plus review
At a starting price of $249, the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus is easy to recommend and very competent. In ZDNET's review, June Wan said "it's hard to argue against how much value you're getting with this tablet."
Apple's base iPad is the best tablet for kids that money can buy. It offers the complete package of performance, battery life, app availability, and widespread accessory support. It's a great option for kids who need a reliable device for schoolwork, gaming, or streaming content. However, if you prefer Android OS or a better price point, there are plenty of solid alternatives on the market.
|Best kids' tablet||Price||Where to Buy||Processor||Storage||Colors||Cameras||Battery Life||Protective Case||Operating System|
|Apple iPad 9th generation||$250 - $329||Apple, Best Buy, Walmart||A13 Bionic chip||64GB or 256GB||Silver, space grey||8MP f/2.4 back, 12MP Ultra Wide f/2.4 front||Up to 10 hours||Available||iPadOS|
|Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet||$150||Amazon, Target, Best Buy||Hexa-core 2.0 Ghz||32GB or 64GB (expandable by up to 1 TB)||Blue, purple, Disney Mickey Mouse, or Disney princess||2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording||13 hours||Included||Fire OS|
|Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet||$200||Amazon, Best Buy, Kohls||Octa-core 2.0 GHz||32GB (expandable up to 1TB)||Sky blue, black, doodle, intergalactic||2 MP front-facing and 5 MP rear-facing||12 hours||Included||Fire OS|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A8||$172 - $230||Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart||Octa Core Unisoc T618||32GB, 64GB, 128GB, microSD up to 1TB||N/A||8MP rear, 5MP front camera||About 6 hours||Available||Android|
|Lenovo Tab P11 Plus||$200 - $249||Amazon, Lenovo, Best Buy||MediaTek Helio G90T||64GB or 128GB||Slate grey||8MP front and 13MP rear||Up to 15 hours||Available for purchase separately||Android 11|
Note: Prices may vary.
Picking the right kids tablet comes down to a couple of questions you need to ask yourself. First and foremost, you need to have a set budget in mind. Once you decide the dollar amount you're willing to spend, then you can begin to narrow down your options. Then, decide if you want a tablet made by a specific company.
Choose this kids' tablet…
If you want...
Apple iPad 9th generation
The best all-around tablet your kid can grow up with. It offers excellent performance, battery life, app availability and widespread accessory support.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
An affordable tablet for ages 3-7. It comes with parental controls, a rugged case, and a two-year warranty.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro Edition
A large display for ages 6-12. It has a built-in stand, advanced parental controls, and access to over 20,000 apps, games, videos, and books.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
An Android tablet with access to Samsung Kids. . It offers a kid-friendly interface, parental controls, and the ability to set time limits and monitor usage.
Lenovo Tab P11 Plus
A tablet with long battery life. It offers a premium design, a vivid display, and up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge. It also comes with a fingerprint scanner for added security.
While I've used some of these tablets myself, I don't have any kids, so I turned to experts to get their thoughts on the matter. I also researched tablets from renowned brands and paid attention to parental controls and kid-friendly programs that can come with a tablet. I also took into account a tablet's battery life, durability, ease of use, display quality, storage capacity, and price range to cater to different budgets. Moreover, I referred to customer reviews to further gauge their performance and overall value for money.
You have to think about different things when you're buying a tablet for kids compared to buying a tablet for yourself.
Tim Dikun, Reading.com COO and VP of Product and a dad of little ones, has some advice when it comes to what parents should prioritize in a kids' tablet.
"Look for granular parental controls, including if specific apps can be blocked and/or unlocked around certain times," he said. "For example, Amazon's FreeTime app allows parents total control over how children use the tablet by setting learning goals, limiting time spent on gaming apps, or locking gaming apps until learning goals are met."
Dikun also said to pay attention to a tablet's durability, since, well, kids will be kids. If a tablet isn't exactly durable to bumps and drops (like the iPad), be sure to invest in a kid-proof case.
Rebecca Mannis, PhD., Learning Specialist at Ivy Prep Learning Center, referred to The American Academy of Pediatrics' new guidelines.
"They recommend no consistent screen exposure prior to 18 months of age, max one hour age 2-5, and limiting screen use to two hours beyond that," she said. "In considering preschools and primary schools, it is helpful to know their policies - both to see how their philosophies match your family values and so you can reinforce their rules at home."
Mannis added that while kids often learn to read these days through a tablet thanks to reading apps, it's important to switch up how your child reads.
"Researchers have found that the brain processes content that we read online in a different way - and one that is not as skilled," she said. "So, as great as online reading is, make sure to give your kids lots of opportunity to hold books in their hands to maximize their literacy skills growth. Or 'cross train' their reading between devices and traditional print books to see if you as a parent notice a difference."
Not officially. Amazon customizes the base version of Android and turns it into Fire OS, forgoing any sort of Google certification in order to make Google's apps available on the tablets.
You won't find the official YouTube app available in the Appstore, but you can use Amazon's Silk browser to access the YouTube website to gain access to the video platform.
There are plenty of tablets on the market that can be kid-friendly. Be sure to look for features like parental controls, long battery lives, and ease of use. Here are a few other options to consider.
The Apple iPad Mini is a powerful, more portable option for kids who prefer iOS.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a 2-in-1 device with a keyboard that is perfect for school-aged children.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a versatile option for kids who want to use it for both entertainment and schoolwork.