This holiday season, one the most popular gadgets for kids is a tablet. In the UK, 24% of kids under 16 are asking for a tablet. Here in the US, there has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablets for families with children under 8 years old. If your child has a tablet on their list or you are tired of sharing yours, I discovered some great resources on how to choose a kid friendly tablet.
There are so many tablet options. Do you get a tablet specifically designed for kids? Do you go with a family tablet? Do you want your child to be able to take photos? Do you want internet access? To answer all these questions, start with the Kid’s Tablet Guide 2013 from the Ireland Technology Blog. This article does a nice job of breaking down all the options available and what to look for when buying a tablet.
Once you decide on what you need, the next stop is Kid Tablets with wifi. This site reviews and compares different tablets for kids and families. Basically, your choices for tablets come in 3 categories: Learning Tablets, Kid Tablets and Family Tablets.
Learning Tablets (ages 2-6)
Learning tablets have a close system that only allows educational games and apps. According to PCadvisor, the two main kids’ learning tablets are Leapfrog’s LeapPad and VTech’s InnoTab. These tablets are great for younger kids. Kids can only download age appropriate content from the Leapfrog or VTech store. So, parents do not need to worry about them stumbling upon a YouTube video of Elmo swearing. Both of these tablets are cheaper than most but their apps are more expensive. Both received 4 out of 5 stars on Toys R Us and Amazon. If you cannot decide between the two, Kids Tablets with wi-fi has a side by side comparison.
Kid Tablets (age 6-12)
For this age group, two tablets that caught my eye while surfing was the Nabi2 and Samsung Galaxy Tablet for Kids.
Lap Top Magazine rated the nabi 2 by Fuhu as the best tablet for kids. The magazine found that nabi had the most robust parental controls on the market. You can set up profiles for each child, and limit the apps and content they can access. The nabi 2 offers not only educational apps and kid-friendly videos, it also has lesson plans with quizzes for grades K-5 .
Samsung has recently entered the kid market with Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids’ Tablet. This tablet has both a parent mode and a kids mode. In kids mode, kids are greeted with a colorful display and educational apps and content chosen just for them. Parents can also manage how much their child is playing with the built-in timer. Parents can use it in parent mode where it operates as a regular Android tablet.
Parents may decide to go with a tablet designed for everyone to use. On the positive side, these tablets may last longer because a kid is unlikely to grow out it as quickly. It also avoids the worst case scenario of buying your child a kid’s tablet and they end up stealing yours anyway.
The problem with handing over one of these tablets to a kid is unrestricted internet access. When I wrote about tablets a few years ago, iPad was the only one with parental controls. Now, both the Kindle Fire and other Android tablets allow parents to change settings to limit content. With the proper settings, these tablets are a good option for older kids.
If you decide to go with a family tablet, The Next Web explains the difference in controls between the iPad and Android tablets as well as how to set up parental controls for each. For the Kindle Fire, Amazon has a tutorial on the different settings and how to use the app Kindle FreeTime for limiting content and time.