Finding the best tablet for your child isn’t simply a matter of comparing technical stats. Operating system features for safety and ease of use, as well as bespoke learning tools are just as important.
Equally, the device needs to engage children in a fun, free and creative manner to capture their imagination. Then it needs to grow with them as they develop. That there are so many different options is perhaps indicative of the challenge facing manufacturers.
We've rounded up several tablets that are specifically for or suited to children that you could consider. All of them have their merits and offer a wide range of educational and fun features for kids.
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum
LeapFrog’s popular LeapPad becomes the Platinum this year. Building on the success of the Ultra XDi it continues the bespoke operating system, safe-browsing and game ecosystem. Brand new are collectable Imagicards that combine virtual and physical learning. Place any of the 30 or so available cards in front of the camera to bring characters into games.
The Platinum includes ten apps out of the box with 500 more games, eBooks and videos that can be downloaded. Another strong learning feature is the "It’s Just for Me" system that tracks progress to personalise games for young players' abilities across different games. In terms of safety, robustness and learning the LeapPad Platinum continues to lead the crowd for younger children.
Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition
A child-friendly tablet that pairs perfectly with Amazon’s "Fire for Kids" subscription service offering children’s books, videos and appropriate apps and games. Sporting a hefty quad core processor and front/rear cameras it’s also equipped for more than watching films - kids can make them too.
This is topped off with a no quibble two-year warranty and “child proof” case, it won’t survive a dunking but will put up with most of life’s drops and knocks. Should it end up at the bottom of a paddling pool though, Amazon will replace it no questions asked. If you want a “proper” tablet that will grow with your child the Fire HD 6 Kids edition is a great option, especially as it has settings to restrict how much time a child can play for.
Tesco Hudl 2
While not quite the level of build quality as the Kindle HD 6 Kids Edition, the Hudl 2 is a cost-effective contender for child-friendly tablet. Screen display quality is excellent and is paired with a strong processor to give interactions a snappy feel.
A great family feature is the Child Safety application that enables multiple profiles to be set-up that restrict access to content and (perhaps more importantly) the amount of tablet time each child gets each day. Better still, use Clubcard vouchers to get the purchase price down.
Styled with protection in mind the Nabi 2 is an excellent Android tablet for children. Educational content is preloaded with a “Safe Kids” mode, but it can grow with the child to allow full access to the Android interface including the broad Google Play and Google App stores.
A nice touch is granting children in-app rewards for helping round the home.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids wears it’s child-friendly credentials on its sleeve (although may look too childish for older kids). The Android operating system is tailored for younger users and pre-loaded with friendly apps and games all of which have an educational bent.
The device also sports an “enhanced rugged frame” to put up with more knocks and scrapes although this is not as protective as some others on this list.
VTech Innotab Max
While tech savvy parents may see this as a low tech cash-in on the kids market, younger children generally warm to the Innotab. It is undoubtedly slower than competitors and although the device price is low, cartridge software can be costly.
It also offers a tailored child-centric experience with some nice touches like the ability for children to electronically request particular games and content from parents.
Apple iPad mini 2
This slightly long in the tooth iPad is not the cheapest route for a child friendly tablet device but is a high performer that will grow with them as they develop. It is also a cheaper option than the iPad mini 3 even though there's little difference in the two for this particular purpose. We do advise you pair the tablet with a child friendly case though, to avoid damage from drops and splashes. If you do so, you have a strong contender.
You can restrict web browser and app installation via the standard settings and even disable explicit content in music, podcasts and TV shows. Best of all is the vast library of iOS child-centric games and apps.
Google Nexus 7
Either Nexus 7 (if you can find one) or Nexus 9 if you can’t, are worth considering as child friendly tablet devices. Pair these with a robust case and they become a powerful, safe window into the Android’s entertainment and educational world.
Set up child-centric user profiles to restrict online access and purchases and away you go — just keep an eye on Bluetooth and NFC access as this can’t be disabled.
The children’s tablet space is a fast moving and complex area of consumer electronics. Once you have your top picks from this list it’s worth spending some time hunting for bargains as the different brands compete to build a young install base.
This time is well spent as the right device for your family can make all the difference. This not only offers peace of mind to parents but enjoyment and education for children in years to come.