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Published Mar 9, 2022 3:23 PM

After an unprecedented couple of years with online learning, and desperate times calling for desperate measures, many parents are relaxing previously strict rules on screen time and searching for the best tablet for their kids. Instead of viewing screens as harmful, we’re starting to see them as a tool for learning, creating, and staying connected. Even the youngest kids can use a tablet as an educational tool if parents choose one with the right controls and features. 

Tablet capabilities vary widely, as do prices, so I researched different products to find the best ones for a variety of uses, whether you’re looking for something durable for a toddler or something more high-end for a savvy teen. Read on to find five of the best tablets for kids.

How We Selected The Best Tablets for Kids

Methodology

I have three young kids, and over the past two years the parenting resources I’d grown accustomed to were suddenly depleted. The museums, libraries, playgroups, and even school options I’d once had were suddenly closed or limited. Instead, my family turned to tablets for information and entertainment. I’ve used my experience to inform my search for the best tablets, as well as feedback from teachers and other parents who have dealt with technology for kids of different ages. I also looked through Amazon reviews to get a wider scope of user experience. 

I examined a number of factors when reviewing each tablet, the most important among them being display and sound quality, durability, and parental controls (which were especially important in the tablets we chose for the younger set). Here are my picks for the best tablets for kids.

The Best Tablets for Kids: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition

Best Overall

A kids’ tablet that makes independent learning easy, even for the younger crowd. Amazon

Why It Made the Cut: This high-quality and super sturdy tablet includes one year of free access to Amazon Kids+, offering over 20,000 apps, games, videos, and books.

Specs:

  • 12 hours of battery life
  • 32GB of storage
  • Two-year warranty

Pros: 

  • Protective case makes it virtually unbreakable
  • Wide array of parental controls
  • Offers the best value for its price

Cons: 

  • No access to Google Play Store apps

The Amazon Fire 8 is the first of two Amazon fire tablets on this list, and for good reason: Amazon tablets are beloved across the board for the kiddos. More than any of the competing brands, Amazon struck the perfect balance between kid-friendly and usable technology. 

This is the tablet I have for my 2-, 4-, and 6-year-olds, and believe me when I say the kid-proof case is actually kid-proof — my household has put it to the test. The case and screen are easy to wipe clean after they get smudged with sticky fingers. A little stand folds in and out of the back of the case so kids can prop up the screen for easy viewing.

A purchase of the Amazon Fire includes a year of Amazon Kids+, which gives access to over 20,000 apps, games, videos, and books. Although it doesn’t offer access to native Google apps, Amazon Kids+ provides more than enough options to keep kids busy. Most important when giving kids their own tablet, this one comes with an extensive array of parental controls, including screen time limitations. The Amazon Fire 8 is a perfect first tablet for kids under 7.

Best for Kids 7 and Up: Amazon Fire 10 Kids Pro

Best for Kids 7 and Up

This tablet is a great next step in teaching kids responsibility with technology.

Why It Made the Cut: This version is a more mature take on everything we loved about the Amazon Fire 8, with access to web browsing and the option for more relaxed parental controls.

Specs:

  • 32GB
  • 12 hours of battery life
  • Two-year warranty

Pros:

  • Comes with a thin but sturdy kid-proof case
  • Includes a filtered web browser
  • Kids have access to digital store with parent approval

Cons:

  • Some reviewers feel the higher price isn’t in line with the value of added features

The second Amazon Fire tablet on the list has a lot of the same great features as the first one, including the trustworthy kid-proof case. The Fire 10 Pro’s case, however, is much thinner than the Fire 8’s case, which is the first feature that makes kids feel like they’re handling a more grown-up tablet.

Another difference is that the Fire 10 Pro provides access to a web browser. The browser filters out inappropriate content, and parental controls allow parents to block any website they want their kids to stay away from. I love this gentle leash because it’s a great next step toward independence and safe internet use. 

While some reviews suggest that the additional price for the Fire 10 Pro isn’t justified for what it offers in features, the tablet is really a great solution for the preteen period. Less expensive tablets may be aimed toward younger kids, and you may not want to trust an 8-year-old with an expensive iPad. For many parents, a small increase in price is worth it to bridge that gap.

The purchase of the Fire 10 Pro comes with a year of Amazon Kids+. Kids can also request access to other apps through the digital store, which parents then have to approve for purchase. With over 20,000 apps available, kids 7 and up will keep busy and engaged for hours (or however long parents set the screen time limits!).

Best for Older Kids: iPad Mini 6

Best for Older Kids

Teens prefer the lightweight ease of this smaller version of the iPad. Apple

Why it Made the Cut: The iPad Mini has all the great features we’ve come to expect from Apple products and carries as easily as a phone.

Specs:

  • 5.3-inch x 7.69-inch screen
  • 0.65 pounds
  • 10 hours of battery life

Pros:

  • Bright display
  • Fast processing speed 
  • Includes magnetic holder for 2nd Gen Apple Pencil

Cons:

  • No headphone jack
  • Expensive

Older kids and teens will love the sleek, lightweight design of Apple’s iPad Mini 6. The miniature iPad has similarities to the iPad Air, but is two inches smaller and nearly half a pound lighter. Unlike larger tablets, the Mini is small enough to be held comfortably in one hand.

The sharp, bright display projects vivid colors and images as clear as any iPad screen. Its Bionic A15 chip provides power for ultra fast processing. These features combine to make the iPad Mini ideal for streaming movies and TV shows (or Youtube and TikTok videos if your child prefers).

This tablet doesn’t include a headphone jack, but if kids prefer wired headphones they can still use them with a USB-C adapter. Similarly, without a jack for a Magic Keyboard they would need a Bluetooth keyboard if they want to use the iPad for longer school assignments.

Overall, teens tend to love their Apple products, and once they’re responsible enough to handle a more expensive tablet, this lightweight version is sure to please.

Best for School Work: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Best for School Work

A tablet students can use as a laptop at a moment’s notice. Samsung Electronics

Why It Made the Cut: The S6 comes with Samsung’s S Pen, which allows users to take notes or mark up papers.

Specs:

  • 10.5-inch display
  • .92 pounds
  • 15 hour battery life

Pros:

  • Keyboard compatible
  • Includes an S Pen for jotting down notes
  • Excellent performance for media playback

Cons:

  • Keyboard not included
  • Pricey

Like the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is a purchase you want to save for older kids who can be trusted with an expensive product. This tablet is great for high school students interested in a 2-in-1 deal — a tablet that can be transformed into a laptop with the quick addition of a keyboard.

Purchase of the S6 includes the S Pen stylus — no additional purchase necessary — so kids can use it to take notes in class, mark up docs, or even just to doodle. An excellent addition to this version is the magnetic stylus holder, which keeps the pen snugly in place. 

Although this tablet is on the pricier side, it’s a great alternative to a laptop computer. It has a nice display and a long battery life of up to 15 hours on a single charge, making this the best tablet for kids to use for homework.

Best Budget: Kindle Paperwhite Kids

Voracious readers will love having easy access to their favorite books at the tap of a button. Kindle

Why It Made the Cut: This e-reader includes features to help build reading and vocabulary skills at a good price.

Specs:

  • More affordable than other tablets
  • 6.8-inch display
  • Glare-free display
  • Two-year warranty

Pros:

  • Reading tools like Vocabulary Builder, Word Wise, and OpenDyslexic font make reading easier for kids.
  • Parent Dashboard allows parents to set reading goals and view reader progress.
  • Kids can read without the distraction of apps, games, and videos.

Cons:

  • No access to apps, games, and videos

I’ve heard from even the most devoted readers that they have a harder time focusing on a book when life is full of distractions from screens and apps. That’s why the Kindle Paperwhite Kids is a great tablet for kids who love to read (or kids whose parents want them to read more). It’s also available at a budget-friendly price.

This is a simple e-reader that only accesses books and audio books. Like other Amazon tablets, purchase of the Paperwhite Kids includes a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+, which allows access to thousands of books. Other books are available for purchase, which can be monitored by parents through the Parent Dashboard.

The Paperwhite Kids has a lot of great features for both parents and kids. The Parent Dashboard also allows parents to set educational goals and keep track of reading time. Kids will benefit from reading tools that give word definitions with just a tap of the screen.

With an adjustable light and glare-free screen, this tablet is perfect for any voracious reader. And when I say voracious I mean it — a single charge of the Paperwhite’s battery can last up to ten weeks.

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Tablets for Kids

Usage

Does your kid want a tablet for schoolwork or simply for entertainment? If they want to use it to hammer away at an essay, make sure to purchase a tablet that’s compatible with a keyboard so they don’t have to pound at the touch screen to type. If your kids are the creative type, there are tablets that are good for drawing and artwork. A simple e-reader should be fine for kids who are just looking to read e-books.

Maturity

This is a loaded question, but to start, do you trust your six-year-old to take good care of their tablet, to not break it or get Cheerio dust in the cracks? If not, consider something sturdy and durable like the Amazon Fire 8. For older kids, how much screen time freedom are they mature enough to handle? Consider parental controls and web access when choosing the right tablet to suit their needs.

Storage

This seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget to check the specs when you’re excited about a purchase. Storage can fill up quickly, and while many devices have expandable storage, that can cost more money in the future. Make sure to check how much storage a device has before purchase and consider the costs of expanding when you’re decided on a product.

FAQs

Q: At what age should a child begin using a tablet?

A two-year-old child can start to take advantage of the educational tools, games, and videos on a tablet. Especially in those early years, interacting with the environment is a critical part of development, so screen time should be limited. Parents can make the most of limited screen time by curating the child’s tablet and filling it with learning, arts, music, and read-along apps.

Q: What kind of tablet is good for a three-year-old?

I have to go with my pick for the best tablet for little kids, the Amazon Fire 8. It’s user friendly, even for a three-year-old. The plastic carrying case is sturdy and durable. It has simple-to-use parental controls that allow parents to set restrictions on screen time and content. You can even set rules requiring a certain amount of educational screen time before allowing the child to access games or videos. Three years old is a great time to introduce a child to the Amazon Fire 8.

Q: What’s the difference between an iPad and a tablet?

Technically there is no difference — “tablet” is the common term for any of the variety of devices functioning as hand-helds with a touch screen. The iPad is Apple’s version of the tablet. It has thousands of available apps, but as with all Apple products, they are only available through Apple’s app store, which checks each app before approving it for sale and eliminates the risk of bugs or malware. If your other Apple devices are running the same operating system, it’s easy to integrate them with the iPad. While the iPad isn’t a kid-centric device, fun and age-appropriate apps are available, but generally the iPad is probably better for teens and adults.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to find a tablet that’s perfect for kids of any age, even preschoolers. Often it’s hard to choose the best product when so many options are available for different brands, but in this instance the winners were clear outliers in their categories and age groups. So go ahead and grab one of these great tablets for your kids and let them have some screen time, guilt-free.

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