Kid-friendly tablets are relatively inexpensive and appeal to children of all ages
Tablets have become a vital teaching and entertainment tool for kids.
By Nicholas De Leon
Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive “first computer” for a teenager or merely a way to keep the little ones occupied during that long holiday road trip, you’ll find a wide assortment of tablets for kids these days.
More than 10 years after Steve Jobs first introduced Apple’s iPad, the device has become a vital teaching and entertainment tool for kids from pre-K to U of K. (Yes, that includes toddlers.)
We’re talking about models with a high-quality touchscreen display, an easy-to-master operating system, a deep pool of apps and services, and built-in cameras good enough for Zoom calls with Grandma and Grandpa.
Better yet, you can often get all of that for less than $100.
Antonette Asedillo, who oversees laptop and tablet testing for CR, adds that many models offer handy parental controls, too, including restricted profiles that limit usage times, permissible content, and the type of apps that can be installed.
We note which tablets have this option in our full tablet ratings, available to CR members. There you’ll also find scores for battery life, performance, and the quality of the display. We even factor in reliability and owner satisfaction data collected through surveys of our members.
To get you started, here’s a quick look at our picks for the best tablets for kids based on age groups. To learn more about tablet features and how to shop for one, read our tablet buying guide.
Best Best Tablet for Young Kids (Ages 3 to 7)
Amazon Fire Kids Edition (16GB)
Amazon has a whole line of Fire tablets that provide good value for the money, but the dedicated Kids Edition is the one to get if you’re shopping for a small child. The model has a 7-inch display, 16 gigabytes of built-in storage (which can be expanded with a microSD card), and a sturdy protective case to safeguard your investment.
It also comes with robust parental controls and a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, a service (normally $2.99 per month) that offers a selection of curated apps and other kid-friendly content.
That all adds up to a device you can safely hand off to almost any child without much fuss.
Best Tablet for Pre-teens (8 to 12)
Onn Tablet Pro 8
For school-age children steeped in Google Classroom, Walmart’s Onn Tablet Pro 8 is another great, low-cost option. It ships with the Android 10 operating system and has access to the Google Play app store.
That means you can download Google’s full suite of productivity apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.), not to mention a wide range of popular games. By contrast, Fire tablets (like the Kids Edition above) use Amazon’s more limited app store.
The 8-inch Onn comes with 32 gigabytes of built-in storage, plus a microSD card slot for additional storage.
Best Tablet for Teenagers
Apple iPad (64GB)-2021
If your teenager is begging you for an iPad, you don’t have to break the bank to make them happy: Apple’s entry-level iPad starts at around $330, a reasonable price compared to more advanced models. It’s great for streaming their favorite TV shows, considering our testers admire the bright and accurate display. It also gives them access to Apple’s giant ecosystem of apps and services, including educational apps like Apple’s own Swift Playgrounds, which introduces kids to programming by teaching them to create simple games.
Another selling point: the device has a long battery life (as much as 13 hours per charge). And, Apple earns top marks for predicted reliability, which means you’re unlikely to encounter major problems with the device, as long as you use it as recommended.
One notable drawback: While the iPad supports a range of parental controls for limiting use and content, it doesn’t let you create varied profiles, with different apps and settings, so it may not be your best option if you’re planning to have children of different ages use the tablet.
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