If you're in the market for kid-friendly tablets, we've got a list of contenders.
Every kid wants a tablet. They're fun, portable, easy to use, and they keep the little ones entertained. If your children have seen you working (or playing) on a tablet, chances are they want to play, too.
Deciding to invest in a tablet for your child is a big step, and there are a number of qualities to consider: price, parental controls, and perhaps most importantly, durability. We've read the reviews, asked around, and brought together the five tablets we believe will be the best for your kids .
- LeapFrog Epic Kids Tablet
- Dragon Touch 7 inch Quad Core Android Kids Tablet
- Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite Kids
- Amazon Fire Kids Edition
- iPad Mini 2
LeapFrog Epic Kids Tablet
LeapFrog was one of the first tablet-style devices made just for kids. Until recently, parents had to purchase cartridges in order to get games or educational materials for LeapFrog products, but the latest version of the tablet has eliminated the cartridges in favor of Wi-Fi and an Android 4.4-based OS. Now that everything can be downloaded, just like a regular "grown up" tablet, you'll never have to go searching for little green cartridges again.
The tablet comes with LeapSearch, a child-friendly browser that lets kids "explore" the web without stumbling into adult territory. Kids can download pre-approved apps without worry and keep themselves occupied with plenty of safe content. The 16GB LeapFrog has an expandable SD card port, just in case your child requires more storage for their new favorite gadget. Parental controls within the LeapSearch browser allow you to set time limits either for the entire tablet or for particular games. These controls also let you unlock web access as your child grows up.
The Epic has a battery life of approximately 6 hours and a 7-inch screen. At 3.6 pounds, this tablet is heavier than most, but it stands up to drops and unexpected accidents. The bumper case, available in either green or pink, is removable, which helps reduce some of the weight and bulk once your child has mastered their grip on the tablet.
Dragon Touch 7 inch Quad Core Android Kids Tablet
The Dragon Touch tablet runs on Android's KitKat OS. It's Wi-Fi, HDMI, and Bluetooth-compatible, so you may find yourself playing around on it after the kids are in bed. Reviews for the Dragon Touch are consistently favorable, and the cost is reasonable, starting around $60. The 8GB storage is expandable thanks to a microSD slot.
The tablet comes pre-installed with "Zoodles," a child-friendly app store. Here, kids can access free games and educational software. If you want to share some digital artwork your kids have created on social media, you have access to Parent Play Along mode, letting you access things like Facebook. In Play Along mode, you can download other apps for your kids that they would not otherwise have access to. You'll also have access to services like Netflix for family-friendly shows and movies or for binge-watching your own shows when the kids are done playing.
The thick silicone case makes the Dragon Touch drop and bump-proof, and it's easy for small hands to grip onto. It weighs 9.8 ounces, and the bumper is available in either red or blue. The battery life tops out around 3.5 hours — which could even be an advantage if you're looking to limit usage.
Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite Kids
Samsung's tablet is a good option for a number of reasons; most significantly of which is that many certified used editions are available alongside the new ones. While this tablet is less likely to follow your kids as they grow up, it does run Android 4.4 KitKat-based software, and has a 7-inch screen. It is consistently well-reviewed, and the availability of used ones is a testament to durability and quality. With its bright, colorful design, it's a favorite for much younger children who are just being introduced to tablets.
The Galaxy Tab E Lite comes loaded with popular games and apps and a three month subscription to "Samsung Kids" is also included, so kids can pick from a variety of apps to download without safety or content concerns. Parental controls let you set time limits, and, if you feel like your child has spent too much time on any given game, you can restrict access to any of the apps they've downloaded. The standard 8GB is expandable but it's usually not necessary.
The soft bumper case included with the tablet is neon and bright, which makes it easy to spot in a hurry. It's easy for little hands to hold and weighs 15.2 ounces. And the 5-hour battery life provides more than enough play time for quiet afternoons or longer rides in the car.
Amazon Fire Kids Edition
The only tablet that offers a 2-year warranty is Amazon's. If the unthinkable happens to the Fire Kids Edition or if you know your kids tend to be hard on their toys, this is peace of mind included for free. Running on Fire OS 5, the tablet is fast and Bluetooth-compatible, making it a good investment if you're looking for something the whole family can use — and that your kids won't outgrow.
It comes with one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which allows your child to access over 10,000 apps, games, shows, movies, and books, all kid-tested and parent-approved. Parent mode, which is accessed with a password, gives you the opportunity to share media that your kids need your permission to get into. Parent mode also lets you access your social media accounts and Netflix, which means that one day, your kids will be able to do the same when they've outgrown the FreeTime restrictions. This tablet is expandable beyond the 8GB it comes with via microSD.
With a 7-inch screen and a 7-hour battery life, the tablet will look and perform just like a Fire tablet you might purchase for yourself. And Amazon's Kid-Proof Case can protect the Fire Kids Edition, but is easily removable, It's available in blue, pink, and green.
iPad Mini 2
Finally, the most expensive option is an older model of iPad, but parents overwhelmingly recommend the iPad Mini 2 if you're going to go with Apple products. Because the Mini is available in several versions, many people have traded in their gently or barely used Mini 2 for a newer model, making a refurbished one ideal for younger users. The price difference between new and refurbished isn't tremendous, but it's good to know it's an option. The Mini 2 runs on Apple's iOS, and it fully up-to-date with the latest iOS 9.
This particular iPad comes standard with 16GB of storage and is expandable. Parental controls are available, but you need to set them up yourself. In the Settings menu, you can select the Restrictions button and limit the browser or turn off the iPad's ability to download anything at all. That said, you can customize this tablet just the way you want before giving it to your child, so a particular browser or app is not controlling any of the content — you are. Taking into account the higher cost of the iPad and the fact that it's not specifically designed for young children, older kids and pre-teens would be better recipients.
The Mini 2 is easy to customize, with a large variety of cases available, many of them kid-proof, durable, and inexpensive. It's light, weighing in at 0.73 pounds and has a 7.9-inch Retina Display, which is larger than most kid-centric tabs, and designed to be easier on the eyes. The average battery life is 10 hours.
The bottom line
No one knows your child like you do. You are the best predictor of what your child is going to enjoy and get the most use out of. You're also the one with the wallet.
If you're buying your child's first tablet and they're still quite young, the LeapFrog is easy to use and ready to go out-of-the-box. Samsung is also an excellent option for younger children, especially if you can get a certified refurbished model. The overall winner for a kid-friendly, parent-approved, budget-conscious tablet has to be the Amazon Fire Kids Edition. The warranty is a perk by which many parents are comforted, and the tablet itself will move on with your child as they mature.
Share your thoughts on tablets for kids in the comments below. Let us know if your personal choice made it onto our list or if you have some advice for first-time buyers.