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The best tablets for kids, according to parents

Whether for education or entertainment, ZDNET found the top tablets for kids based on hands-on testing and expert recommendations. Many are on sale for Black Friday now.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer and  Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Kayla Solino

For busy parents, tablets have become a viable asset to keep kids entertained during 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

The good news is you don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent tablet. And, especially since Black Friday is right around the corner, you can find tablets for kids discounted across various retailers. 

Also: The best early Black Friday tablet deals

You can find a device that offers plenty of educational content along with entertainment options and parental controls like limiting screen time so kids aren't glued to tech devices. Our top pick is Apple's iPad, but we included other options from brands like Amazon, Samsung, and more that both parents and parenting experts recommend. 

Also: The best smartwatches for kids

The best tablets for kids in 2023

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Solid performance
  • Long battery life
  • Ample app support
  • Apple's Family Sharing
Cons
  • Expensive
More Details

Apple iPad (9th generation) 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 great for kids. After testing, ZDNET's Jason Cipriani said Apple had "perfected the tablet equation" with the 9th generation model. 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 less than the 2022 model at $330. (I don't recommend spending $449 for the newer model for your child to use and abuse unless you plan to share it with them.)

Review: Apple iPad (2021) review: If it's not broken, don't fix it

Early education experts agree with Cipriani's assessment that the 9th-gen iPad is kid-friendly. 

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 and customer support. You can also easily monitor your kid's activity online, 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 them if a child is trying to buy an app, and sends reminders for events like family game night, among other things. 

Deal alert: Save $80 on the 9th generation iPad at Walmart for Black Friday sales. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Better and brighter display
  • Long battery life
  • Great price point
Cons
  • Amazon's Appstore is slightly limited
More Details

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet tech specs: Display: 10.1-inch 1080p Full HD display | Processor: Octa-core 2.0 GHz | Storage: 32 (expandable by up to 1 TB) | Memory: 3GB | Colors: Happy Day, Mint, and Nebula | Cameras: 5 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 1080p HD video recording | Weight: 23.21 oz | Dimensions: 7.5 x 10.1 x 0.7 inches (with kid-friendly case) | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 2.0 | Battery life: 13 hours

For bigger kids (ages 6-12), there is Amazon's new Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet. New to this generation is 25% faster speeds, higher quality 5 megapixel cameras, and 13 hours of battery life instead of 12 hours. 

Thanks to the 10.1-inch display, you'll get a larger screen without adding much to the overall cost, and the resolution is better than previous generations with a 1080p Full HD brighter display. It comes with a protective case, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year subscription to Amazon Kids+. 

It comes with a slim, kid-proof case, as well as preset age filters for kids age 6-12. Even with all these improvements, this model is still $10 less than the previous generation at $190. 

Review: This new tablet is redefining what a kids tablet can do

ZDNET writer, Maria Diaz, went hands-on with the new Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet and was "pleasantly surprised" by its smooth performance. 

"The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro has proven itself decidedly faster than both generations of the Fire HD 8 Kids tablets we have, and since the older ones were passed down to a four-year-old and a two-year-old, that hasn't been a problem. The seven-year-old and new owner of the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro, however, definitely notices the difference," she wrote. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long battery life
  • Full Android
  • Great display
Cons
  • Keyboard not included
  • Performance
  • Cameras
More Details

Lenovo Tab P11 Plus 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 can back that claim up. Plus, it runs Android 11 out of the box. 

One downside to the Tab P11 Plus is that 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. 

Review: Lenovo Tab P11 Plus: A budget Android tablet that's surprisingly good

Moderately priced at $250, 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." 

Plus, you'll get kid-friendly features already built into the tablet.

"For parents, the tablet can dial into Android's Kids Space. When turned on, the Tab P11 Plus switches to a child-friendly interface filled with teacher-approved games, educational videos, and digital content to keep any kid engaged," Wan wrote. "Through the Family Link app, you can monitor, set screen-time limits, and even lock the tablet from your phone."

Deal alert: Save $45 on the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus when you purchase at Best Buy. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Kids edition has many perks
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Performance will be an issue
  • Amazon's Appstore is hit or miss
More Details

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids 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

While similar to the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is made with littler kids in mind. It comes with a colorful kid-proof case built to withstand 3 to 7-year-olds, since it protects against drops and bumps, and it comes complete with an adjustable stand so your kids can go hands-free. 

It also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, an Amazon FreeTime Unlimited subscription, which grants you access to thousands of kid-friendly ad-free books, as well as movies, games and other kid-friendly and educational content

"The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is a well-built, entry-level tablet that comes with a sturdy kid-proof cover and features useful parental controls," says Diaz, who bought the tablet for her kids. 

Review: I bought this Amazon kids tablet instead of an iPad and wasn't sorry

"Its 13-hour battery life means that you'll need to charge it less often than other competitors, and the combination of a durable case and screen ensures the integrity of the Fire tablet for years to come," she says. 

However, Amazon offers you a two-year worry-free guarantee in case the tablet does succumb to playtime. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Samsung Kids experience
  • Expandable storage
  • Great tablet for simple entertainment
Cons
  • Sluggish performance
  • Battery life isn't as great as other options
More Details

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 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 proper Android tablet with full Google support, look no further than the Galaxy Tab A8. 

"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," parenting expert and creator of Parental Questions Mo Mulla told ZDNET. 

Mulla also speaks highly of Samsung Kids, which parents can access from any Samsung tablet, as it lets parents give their kids access to specific contacts and apps, provides learning challenges for kids to avoid mindless scrolling, and even includes interaction with Samsung-specific animated characters. 

"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," he said. 

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. 

Deal alert: This Samsung tablet is currently 25% off on Amazon. 

What is the best tablet for kids?

Apple's base iPad is the best kids' tablet 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' tabletPriceWhere to buyProcessorStorageColorsCamerasBattery lifeProtective caseOperating system
Apple iPad 9th generation$329Apple, Best Buy, WalmartA13 Bionic chip64GB or 256GBSilver, space grey8MP f/2.4 back, 12MP Ultra Wide f/2.4 frontUp to 10 hoursAvailableiPadOS
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet$190AmazonOcta-core 2.0 GHz32GB (expandable up to 1TB)Happy Day, Mint, Nebula5 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 1080p HD video recording
13 hoursIncludedFire OS
Lenovo Tab P11 Plus$250Amazon, Best Buy, LenovoMediaTek Helio G90T64GB or 128GSlate grey8MP front and 13MP rearUp to 15 hoursAvailable for purchase separately Android 11
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet$150Amazon, Best BuyHexa-core 2.0 GHz
32GB or 64GBBlue, Disney Mickey Mouse, Disney Princess, Purple2 MP front and rear-facing cameras
Up to 13 hoursIncludedFire OS
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
$230Amazon, Best Buy, WalmartOcta Core Unisoc T618
32GB, 64GB, 128GB, microSD up to 1TB
N/A8MP rear, 5MP front camera
About 6 hoursN/AAndroid

Which is the right tablet for your kid?

Picking the right kids' tablet comes down to a couple of questions you must ask yourself. First and foremost, you need to have a set budget in mind. Once you decide how much you will spend, you can begin narrowing down your options. Then, determine if you want a tablet made by a specific company.

Choose this kids' tablet.If you want...
Apple iPad 9th generationThe 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 10 Kids ProA 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.
Lenovo Tab P11 PlusA tablet with a 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.
Amazon Fire HD 8 KidsA tablet built for kids ages 3-7. It has a durable and kid-proof case and has up to 13 hours of battery life.
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.

How did we choose these tablets for kids?

While I've used some of these tablets myself, I don't have any kids, so I turned to experts for their thoughts. I also researched tablets from renowned brands and paid attention to parental controls and kid-friendly programs that can come with a tablet. 

  • Durability: Having a tablet that can last is especially important when kids will be using the device, so I looked at the durability of tablets in what they are made of, kid-friendly cases and warranties available. 
  • Ease of use: A tablet for kids needs to be simple, so I looked at factors such as large screens, built-in apps, and operating systems that are easy for kids to learn. 
  • Parental controls: Your kids' safety and privacy are #1 when it comes to tablets, so I looked at what kind of parental controls each tablet offers, including features like screen-time monitoring and app restrictions. 
  • Cost: Kids tablets run the gamut in price, so I included tablets in both low and higher price points, depending on what you need and what features are most important to you in a tablet. 

What features should I look for in a tablet for kids?

You have to think about different things when you're buying a tablet for kids compared to buying a tablet for yourself. 

Tim Dikun, dad and Teaching.com COO and VP of Product, 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.

What should parents know about tablets and screen time?

Rebecca Mannis, PhD., learning specialist at Ivy Prep Learning Center, referred to The American Academy of Pediatrics' new guidelines, which recommends no consistent screen exposure before 18 months of age, one hour tops of screen exposure for ages 2 through 5, and limiting screen use to two hours after age 5. 

"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," she said. 

Mannis added that while kids often learn to read these days through a tablet, thanks to reading apps, it's essential 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, give your kids lots of opportunities 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."

Can my kids use YouTube on Amazon's Fire tablets?

Not officially. Amazon customizes the base version of Android and turns it into Fire OS, forgoing any 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. 

Are there alternative tablets for kids worth considering?

There are plenty of tablets on the market that can be kid-friendly. Be sure to look for features like parental controls, long battery life, and ease of use. Here are a few other options to consider. 

apple-ipad-mini

Best alternative for a smaller tablet

Apple iPad Mini

Apple's iPad Mini is a powerful, more portable option for kids who prefer iOS.

View at Apple
All-new Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids tablet with a blue case on it

Best alternative for smaller kids

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids

Amazon's new Fire HD 10 Kids model also got some upgrades including better battery life, a higher quality camera, and a kid-proof case, plus, preset age filters for kids age 3-7.

View at Amazon
Side angle view of a Microsoft Surface Pro X tablet

Best alternative for Microsoft users

Microsoft Surface Go 3

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a versatile option for kids who want to use it for entertainment and schoolwork.

View at Amazon
The front and back of a purple kids tablet

Best alternative for little kids

Contixo Kids Tablet

Children aged 3-7 will enjoy this kid-friendly tablet with built-in educational apps from the Google Play Store like Khan Academy for Kids, Duolingo, ABC Mouse, etc.

View at Amazon
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