Kids are using tablets and smartphones at increasingly younger ages, so it’s important to know you’re putting the right devices in their hands. An iPad may be too sophisticated and fragile for a pre-schooler to handle, but as your child ages, the starter tablets will become too limited. Therefore, when shopping for a kids tablet, the number one thing to take into consideration is their age. Their needs will change as they grow, so make sure you’re getting the right tablet for both their age group and their responsibility level.
What to look for in a kids tablet:
Four things to consider are durability, battery life, storage size, and screen size. If you’re looking for a tablet for younger children, opt for one that comes with a bumper, or buy a sturdy case to protect it. You don’t want to invest in a great device just to have it dropped and broken. As for battery life, most smaller tablets can run for five to six hours without charging. Make sure you find one that can charge via USB and invest in an extra long charging cable if you’re planning any long car trips. Opt for a tablet with a microSD card slot and grab a card with maximum storage like this 256GB microSD card if you don’t want the hassle of deleting apps and games for more room to load new ones. Finally, screen size is an important factor for smaller hands. A younger child might struggle with a 10″ iPad, so something around the 7″ range is more appropriate.
If you’re concerned about what your child is accessing, look for a tablet with a safe web browser (or no internet access) and preloaded apps which are appropriate for kids. Fisher-Price and LeapFrog models come with a limited range of games and no internet access. When you upgrade to a tablet with web browsing capabilities, this is where the Amazon Fire really shines. You can download from a vast library of games and apps, set password-protected profiles so you can give each child access to only the books, games and apps you want them to see, and even set different time limits for reading and playing games. The iPad offers limited parental controls and is more appropriate for older kids.
Once you’ve armed yourself with all of the necessary requirements and information, you can feel confident that you’re buying the right tablet for your kids. Here are the top seven best kids tablets by age group.
1. Best Overall Tablet for Kids: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet is possibly the best kids tablet on the market for ages 3-12. The first thing you’ll notice about it is its sturdy bumper case design in an option of three bright colors. But most remarkably, it comes with a 2-year no-questions-asked warranty, making it the most durable and reliable option on the market (even if it breaks!). Nonetheless, I recommend a tempered glass protection screen for added security.
The Fire tablet may look like a toy, but it comes loaded with features including one year of FreeTime Unlimited with access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more. Make sure to pick up a Prime membership for unlimited access to books, songs, movies and TV episodes at no additional cost. The FreeTime feature allows you to set up individual profiles for users and set different parental controls and accessibility for each and give them selected access to apps in your personal library, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Minecraft.
The new 8″ model comes with 32 GB of storage (expandable with this 256 GB microSD card), offers an impressive 12 hours of battery life, dual speakers, and front- and rear-facing cameras. Pick up these colorful headphones that are made for kids and offer parents a little peace and quiet while they play. You really can’t miss with the Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet.
- One year of FreeTime Unlimited with access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more
- Robust parental controls
- 32 GB internal storage
- Up to 12 hours of mixed-use battery life
- Add a microSD card for up to 256 GB of expandable storage
- 2-year worry-free guarantee: if it breaks, return it for a free replacement, no questions asked
- Can be difficult for younger kids to navigate independently
- FreeTime profile comes with lots of ads
- Difficult to access Google Play and YouTube Kids
- Slower to load than full-sized tablets
2. Best Tablet for Ages 1-3: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Tablet
The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn is truly baby’s first tablet. This educational device introduces kids to letters, shapes, animals, and more with a series of push buttons. The music and lights are sure to engage young minds while they learn their first words and songs. Three different levels promise to keep your child engaged as they grow. The screen is a bank of push buttons and is not digital, so if your child has already been exposed to the magical world of your iPhone, this may not hold their interest for long. But if you’re looking to introduce your baby to the world of tablets, this is a fun toy.
- Learning software grows with the child
- 28 buttons to activate sounds and music
- Tablet screen lights up and twinkles along to songs and phrases
- Very affordable
- Comes with on/off and volume controls
- Buttons can be hard to push for tiny fingers
- No moving pictures
3. Best Tablet for Ages 3-7: LeapFrog Epic 7″ Android-based Kids Tablet 16GB
The LeapFrog Epic takes a huge leap forward with cheerful interactive displays, apps, and web-browsing capability. The Android-based device comes with a rugged case, 7″ screen, 16GB memory with expandable SD card port, and dual cameras for pictures and videos. Parental controls offer the ability to create three different profiles to monitor how your kids are using it, including the ability to set different time limits for different activities. Out of the box, kids can use the LeapSearch browser to access only preloaded, kid-safe web content, but you can also add websites you choose as your child gets older. The biggest drawback to this device is that all of the apps have to be purchased, and that can add up. Otherwise, this is a great beginner tablet that checks all the right boxes. Pick up this rapid charger with an extra long cord for extra play time.
Price: $82.95 (41 percent off MSRP)
- Interactive Android-based tablet
- Lots of age-appropriate games and apps to download
- Robust parental controls
- Kid-safe web browser
- Rugged bumber and stylus
- Apps and games must be purchased separately
- Does not come with Google Play
- The Android OS is slow
4. Best Tablet for Ages 7-9: All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 32 GB
For a few bucks less than the LeapFrog, you can upgrade to the Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa. It’s not as kid-friendly right out of the box, but by age 7, they will likely have the experience needed to navigate the home screen. This iteration of the popular Fire tablet offers up to 12 hours of battery life, an 8″ HD display, 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and a slot for a 256 GB microSD card for maximum storage, and promises to be more durable than the latest iPad. Alexa capability means your kid can ask her their incessant questions instead of you and easily access their games and apps. Make sure to pick up a Prime membership for unlimited access to books, songs, movies and TV episodes at no additional cost. FreeTime parental controls give you the ability to monitor their usage and keep them shielded from inappropriate content. Pick up a rugged, kid-friendly case and tempered glass protection screen to guard your investment. Really the only problem you’re likely to face with this tablet is wanting to keep it all to yourself.
- Fully functioning tablet
- Robust Parental Controls
- Affordable (save even more with the 16 GB model with special offers)
- Low volume
- Some apps from Fire 7 may not work with Fire 8
5. Best Tablet for Ages 9-12: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet
The Samsung Galaxy also runs on Android for a rich app experience. It’s actually very similar to the Fire HD 8, with the added bonus of a sharper camera and accessibility to Google Play. It’s a great family tablet because of its multi-user mode that lets you create separate, customized log-ins for family members. Kids Mode allows you to manage what your kids access and how long they spend using it, so you still maintain some parental control. You can consider this a full-powered tablet at a fraction of the price of an iPad. So if your preteen is looking for a powerful Android-based tablet with a more powerful camera and greater Google accessibility, this is a strong option. But no matter whose hands you’re placing this in, you’ll want to make sure you buy a quality case and protective screen to go with it.
Price: $180.18 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Android powered with Google Play access
- Rear 5 MP camera and front 2 MP camera
- Solid battery life
- Parental control option
- Slightly more expensive than comparable options
- Supports Wi-Fi only, not 3g LTE
6. Best Tablet for Ages 13+: Apple iPad Air 2
By now, everyone’s familiar with the iPad. What the iPad Air 2 offers is a highly sophisticated, lightweight tablet with the most memory, highest resolution, and sharpest camera on the market. This powerhouse is suited to teenagers who need a device to manage both their homework and research along with gaming, social media, and other apps. This is the largest tablet of this group with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen display and impressive 2048 x 1536 resolution. This model boasts an 8x chip for faster loading times, 128 GB storage and 10 hours of battery life. Super thin, very light, and massively powerful, this is the tablet that will take them through their college years. Be sure to get a cover to protect it from droppage. This iPad Air case comes in a wide range of colors, offers full protection and dual standing positions, and a tempered glass protective screen is an absolute must to protect your investment.
- 128 GB storage
- 8 MP camera
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE compatible
- More expensive
- No microSD card slot for memory expansion
7. Best Budget Tablet: Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7″ Display, 8 GB, Black – with Special Offers
The Fire 7 tablet has the same core processor and Alexa capability as the Fire 8, but at a lower price point. For the most affordable tablet you can get without sacrificing quality, this 8 GB model comes with a smaller screen and “special offers” (read: ads) to keep the cost down. Otherwise, you’re going to find all the same features as the slightly larger, more powerful 8. You can still upgrade the storage with a 256 GB microSD card for maximum storage. FreeTime parental controls give you the ability to monitor their usage and keep them shielded from inappropriate content. Make sure to pick up a Prime membership for unlimited access to books, songs, movies and TV episodes at no additional cost. The Fire 7 comes in a variety of colors, but I still recommend picking up one of these bright, kid-friendly cases and a screen protector to protect your investment.
- Fully functioning tablet
- Robust Parental Controls
- The most affordable model comes with limited storage and ads