Considering getting your kid a tablet? These affordable options let you limit screen time

Buying any device for a child, especially a tablet, can be difficult, with the increased likelihood of wear and tear or careless handling, making a device that won’t easily break is pretty important.

Nowadays there are plenty of reasonably-priced tablets for kids. They have a sturdy construction and kid-friendly functionality that could survive even the most tantrum-inclined toddler, and still keep the little ones occupied with drawing, playing or studying on an age-appropriate device.

With the right level of oversight and parental controls, a tablet can be an intuitive touch-controlled device for kids of various ages. In this guide, we’ll run you through our top picks of tablets for kids from Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and more — with guidance and advice from a host of experts on child-friendly gadgets.

SKIP AHEAD How we picked the best tablets for kids | The best tablets for kids | How to shop for the best tablets for kids

How we picked the best tablets for kids

When picking these suggestions, I drew on the advice of various gadget reporters with personal parenting experience. When choosing individual models, I kept the following criteria in mind:

  • Value: A tablet for kids should have an affordable price tag. I also made sure to focus on tablets that felt appropriately priced for different age brackets.
  • Child-friendly content: Tablets have similar functionality to that of a laptop with a more portable form factor. However, a child’s device can benefit from tighter content and app restrictions. I mainly included tablets with curated operating systems and content libraries more geared toward a young person’s needs.

The best tablets for kids

iPad (10th Generation)

What we like

  • Sleek Apple design
  • Excellent parental controls

Something to note

  • On the larger side (10.9 in.)
  • Pricier kids’ tablets

Apple has been a driving force in the tablet market since the launch of the original iPad in 2010, and the iPad line is a great option if you want a quality device with a sharp screen and plenty of app functionality for older kids and teens to enjoy. If they’re interested in drawing, the Apple Pencil is a responsive stylus for burgeoning creatives. You can also supplement your purchase with an attachable keyboard for more writing-focused purposes. The downside is the price, the mainline iPad is more expensive than the simpler kid tablets found elsewhere in this guide. Patrick Klepek, the editor of parenting and gaming newsletter Crossplay, tells us that iPads are great for family sharing options, where one person can buy an app and everyone gets access to it, but it’s also a more open-ended device, with streaming, gaming and website capability that may go beyond the needs of a young child. Apple does offer extensive parental controls to help you manage the experience.

Operating system: iPad OS | Weight: 1.05 lbs | Screen: 10.2 inches, 2360×1640 resolution | Storage options: 64GB, 256GB | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Ports: Lightning, headphone | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

What we like

  • 1080p touchscreen and Dolby Atmos audio
  • Costs less than Apple

Something to note

  • On the larger side (10.1 in.)
  • Long-term subscription model

Amazon’s range of kid-friendly tablets dominates this guide, and for good reason. Amazon has cornered the market on tablets with colorful case designs and low price points that are perfect for kids. Klepek says “It uses the Amazon App Store, which doesn’t have quite as much choice as Android or iOS, but offers a lot of the same games and apps.”

Because of its size, this 10-inch Pro model is more suitable for kids over 10, but it has a Full HD resolution for watching shows or navigating websites with decent detail. It also has a filtered internet browser that should only offer age-appropriate web pages and content. Your purchase will also include a year-long subscription to Amazon Kids+, with “thousands of ad-free books, games, videos and apps” for your kid to enjoy — though once that year has passed, you’ll have to pay an additional $4.99 per month if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber and $7.99 per month if you’re not.

Operating system: Fire OS 8 | Weight: 1.45 lbs | Screen: 10.2 inches, 1920×1200 resolution | Storage options: 16GB, 32GB (up to 1TB) | Battery life: 13 hours | Ports: USB-C, headphone jack | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3

Amazon Fire 7 Kids

What we like

  • Easy parental controls
  • Affordable

Something to note

  • Basic quality
  • Long-term subscription model

This 7-inch Fire tablet from Amazon is a great budget option for younger kids (3-7). With a sturdy construction, low price, a dedicated parental control dashboard for limiting screen time and a free year-long subscription to Amazon Kids+ (including Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS Kids content). This model has been rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 18,000 user reviews, while Klepek says that “Amazon’s Kindle Kids Fire tablets come with parental controls and include a robust case which has withstood quite a few drops and throws from my daughter.”

Operating system: Fire OS 8 | Weight: 0.94 lbs | Screen: 7 inches, 1024 x 600 resolution | Storage options: 16GB, 32GB (up to 1TB) | Battery life: 10 hours | Ports: USB-C, headphone jack | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3 

Amazon Fire 8 Kids Pro

What we like

  • Easy parental controls
  • Full HD resolution
  • Dolby Atmos audio

Something to note

  • Long-term subscription model

If the Fire 7 Kids is too simple for your needs, and the Fire 10 Kids Pro is too large, consider the Fire 8 Kids Pro — a kid-friendly tablet for those aged 6-12. As a ‘Pro’ model, you’re getting Full HD resolution and a pair of stereo speakers, with support for more immersive Dolby Atmos sound — alongside age-appropriate entertainment through the Amazon Kids+ subscription program. It also comes in three colorways (Blue, Teal and Rainbow) to suit your kid’s tastes. The Fire Kids range comes recommended by both of our expert sources, and this model has 4.5 out of 5 stars across 7,000 user reviews on Amazon.

Operating system: Fire OS 8 | Weight: 0.94 lbs | Screen: 7 inches, 1280 x 800 resolution | Storage options: 32GB (up to 1TB) | Battery life: 13 hours | Ports: USB-C, headphone jack | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3 

Kobo Clara BW

Something to note

  • No TV shows, games or websites
  • Audiobook restrictions

The Kobo Clara is a 6-inch black-and-white display e-reader. It is a great choice for a more limited tablet experience, encouraging the act of reading instead of YouTube, Disney and other sources of video entertainment. It’s broadly the same price as an Amazon Fire 8 Kids tablet with a glare-free screen for sunny outdoor use, a dark mode for “better nighttime reading” and a waterproof design to save it from child-induced spills. It even supports audiobooks, though only those bought from the Kobo store (its ebook marketplace is less restrictive). This model received 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon across a handful of ratings, with similar scores for the rest of the Kobo e-reader range.

Operating system: Alpine Linux | Weight: 0.38 lbs | Screen: 6 inches, 300ppi (pixels per inch) | Storage options: 16GB | Battery life: Several weeks | Ports: USB-C | | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 

Samsung Tab A7

What we like

  • Good resolution
  • Long battery life

The Samsung Tab A7 is a hugely popular tablet that could be a great choice for your kids., with a 4.6 out of 5 Amazon rating across over 22,000 user reviews. At just $150, it’s far more affordable than an Apple iPad, but with a full tablet operating system that you won’t get on an Amazon Fire Kids display. That means you can access Gmail, YouTube and a host of other apps instead of restricted alternatives, making the Samsung Tab A7 a good choice for a shared family device or something to entrust to an older child.

Operating system: Android | Weight: 1.76 lbs | Screen: 7 inches, 2000 x 1200 resolution | Storage options: 32GB, 64GB | Battery life: 13 hours | Ports: USB-C, microSD, headphone jack | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

How to shop for the best tablets for kids

A kid-friendly price

The price you should spend on a tablet depends on your child. Expensive tablets will likely have more features and better specs. Klepek notes that “the older kids become, the more varied their interests become,” so you will want a device capable of supporting them.

Matt Hanson, Managing Editor of Core Tech at TechRadar says “I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for a tablet for a kid under 10. There’s a good chance they’ll be damaged or lost at some point, so you don’t want to spend a huge amount, and kids won’t need the extra features of high-end tablets (though a tablet + drawing app + stylus can offer a lot of creative fun without the mess).”

Size and portability

A big benefit of tablets is their portability and slim construction, but even a small tablet can feel enormous in a child’s hands. The average smartphone size in the US is 6.3 inches (via Omdia), and if your phone is too big for your child to hold comfortably, they’re likely too young to handle a tablet by themselves.

Consider a warranty

Handing any electronic device to a child without a warranty is testing fate. We recommend ensuring there’s a manufacturer’s warranty in place (usually 1-2 years) and if possible a longer retailer’s warranty. If you opt for an Apple iPad, you can also pay for an AppleCare+ plan that will reduce the cost of a replacement device in the event of accidental damage.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Patrick Klepek is the Editor of Crossplay, a newsletter at the intersection of parenting and games.
  • Matthew Hanson is the Managing Editor (Core Tech) at TechRadar, and has worked as a gadget journalist for over 15 years.

Why trust NBC Select?

Henry St Leger has worked as a gadget reporter since 2017, covering the latest developments in consumer hardware, from TVs and headphones to smart speakers and VR headsets. They previously worked as the News & Features Editor at TechRadar and now freelance for NBC Select, IGN and The Independent.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button