Most of us were lucky if we grew up with a Game Boy in hand. Today, kids are more technologically advanced than ever, with a kids’ tablet commonly being their first taste of technology. A kids’ tablet is a more affordable and durable version of the tablet you’re used to and offers both entertainment and education features for your little one. They have more comprehensive parental controls that prevent your little one from accessing the unfiltered internet and making in-app purchases.
Tablets for kids allow parents to easily download a bevy of entertainment and educational apps to keep children occupied. They come in handy for long road trips since you can easily download several hours’ worth of videos or music. Plus, their touchscreens can be used to read books or look at pictures.
The Best Tablets for Kids in 2021
- Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids' Tablet
- Best iPad: Apple iPad mini
- The Big-Screen Pick: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids' Tablet
- Best for Toddlers: LeapFrog LeapPad Academy Tablet
- A Slim Samsung That's Perfect for Teens: Samsung Tab A7 Lite
What to Consider
When shopping for tablets for kids, hardware specs like a fast processor or several gigabytes of RAM aren't the most important qualities to consider. Instead, durability, a long warranty, and parental controls are more practical features to keep in mind. It’s important to consider the tablet's size, total storage space, and expected battery life. Downloadable or pre-installed kid-friendly content is also essential.
If your child will mainly use apps and stream videos, we recommend a tablet with at least 32GB of storage space. If you plan on downloading lots of videos, music, and apps in preparation for a long flight or road trip, you should expect to spend more on a bigger hard drive or consider shopping for a memory card to expand the onboard storage.
Ready to discover exactly which tablet is best for keeping your child and your wallet happy? Learn more about top-rated tablets that are both kid- and parent-approved.
Screen Size: 8 inches
Battery Life: 10 hours
Hands-down, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the best kids' tablet that you can buy. It’s our parenting and tech editors’ tablet of choice for its tough build, 2-year warranty, 10-hour battery, and robust set of parental controls. The tablet’s foam case — which comes in yellow, pink, or blue — protects it from drops and scratches.
Even better, the Fire HD 8 comes with Amazon’s 2-year “Worry-Free Warranty,” which covers accidental damage. So, if your child jams a candy bar into the charging port or drops the whole thing in the toilet and renders it useless, Amazon will replace it, no questions asked.
The tablet runs Amazon's modified version of Android, so it doesn't have the Google Play Store on it, but it's much easier to use and navigate. You can change the user experience based on who's using the tablet, whether it be a child, teen, or parent, which is a feature the iPad lacks. Parents are able to set preferences that limit usage, block purchases, and protect against age-inappropriate content.
Amazon also gives buyers a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, a content library that gives kids access to thousands of age-appropriate videos, books, games, and apps. The tablet is equipped with 32 GB of storage (the same amount as the cheapest iPad), and it supports microSD cards to add more room for movies and games. The Fire 8 HD Kids also earned praise from Laptop Mag for its outstanding warranty, durable design, and long battery life.
Screen Size: 8.3 inches
Storage: 64 or 256GB
Battery Life: 10 hours
The iPad mini has a high-resolution 8.3-inch display, an impressive 10 hours of battery life, and an operating system that’s superior to any other option. It feels solid but not heavy, and there are plenty of rugged cases to choose from that'll keep it in one piece when your child inevitably drops it. Most importantly, Apple's App Store has the widest selection of apps, games, and educational content in the business.
Despite all this, we don't think an iPad is the best tablet for kids. The iPad mini has some settings to prevent access to explicit content and prevent in-app purchases, but parental controls are harder to access and get set up than on Amazon's tablets. Not only that, the iPad does not support multiple user accounts, which makes it more difficult to share between siblings and adults who probably require different usage restrictions.
Additionally, the iPad lacks several key parental control features. For instance, there's no way to automatically shut off an iPad when it's time for bed and keep it powered down until morning, or incentivize good behavior with it (e.g., you can't reward your son with 15 minutes of gameplay after he reads for 30 minutes).
Fortunately, you can set a daily allotment of time for a specific app or app category (think games, social media, entertainment, etc.) on the iPad. Once time runs out, the iPad blocks access to those apps. Your child can ask you for time extensions, which are displayed as a notification on your own personal iOS device. But these notifications get annoying very quickly and make it easy to cave in.
It's also worth mentioning that the iPad mini is more expensive than the 10.2-inch iPad 9th Generation.
In our opinion, the iPad mini is the better option because it’s suited to children's small hands, has twice the storage space, and it still lets you quickly jot down notes or sketches with Apple's convenient Pencil accessory.
Whether you opt for the iPad mini or the larger model, an iPad is so nice, you'll want to use it, too. However, we think the iPad's lack of parental controls and the complexity of the ones that do exist simply can't be ignored.
The Big-Screen Pick
Screen Size: 10.1 inches
Battery Life: 12 hours
If you're a believer that bigger is better, you won't be disappointed with this tablet from Amazon. It's equipped with a two-inch larger display and a larger battery that offers 20% better battery life (2 hours) than our Best Overall pick.
Besides its larger display, it's equipped with a faster processor than the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids so that it can handle power-intensive apps like Zoom and Microsoft Office Mobile.
You've probably noticed that it sports a similar kidproof bumper case like Amazon's other tablets. The case even lets your child enjoy hands-free use via a built-in stand. Parents of older kids should opt for the slimmer-cased Fire HD 10 Kids Pro, which still has the stand but is made of harder plastic that's not nearly as big or bouncy. The two tablets are identical with the exception of their cases which can be removed.
The tablet's powerful front-facing speakers and its 1,920 by 1,200 resolution display make for a better video watching experience, too. Your child can easily watch videos from Netflix, Twitch, and Disney+. The bigger screen will also come in handy for playing games like Minecraft, displaying picture books, and reading comics.
As you'd expect from an Amazon tablet, this model features easy-to-use parental controls and includes access to Amazon's Kids+ service, which includes thousands of kid-friendly apps, games, and books. Even better, it's backed by a 2-year worry-free guarantee.
Best for Toddlers
Screen Size: 7 inches
Battery Life: 7 hours
What's better than a virtual world designed for kids to grow intellectually? This tablet will adapt to your kid's learning level by adjusting the skill level for the different games and activities offered in the form of apps. New challenges will appear as your little brainiac hits mental milestones. Plus, we love its shatterproof screen for slippery fingers and tantrum throwers. It even has a kickstand for watching videos.
We're glad to see that the home screen is customizable, so your little one can easily access their favorite apps. The tablet challenges your child with problem-solving, and it'll help them explore topics in math, coding, spelling, reading, writing, and science. There are plenty of activities for your child to explore, but if they get tired of what's preinstalled, you'll have to pay for an $8-per-month subscription for new content or purchase apps individually.
Like Amazon's tablets, this one runs a modified but easy-to-navigate version of Android with parental controls and a kid-safe web browser. It's worth mentioning that Leapfrog tablets have slower, less powerful processors than an iPad or an Amazon tablet, so they can occasionally be frustrating to use when using certain apps. Fortunately, the tablet is equipped with 16GB of expandable storage, dual cameras, Bluetooth, and a 7-hour battery.
A Slim Samsung That’s Perfect for Teens
Screen Size: 8.7 inches
Storage: 32 or 64GB
Battery Life: 13 hours
The lightweight Galaxy Tab A7 Lite by Samsung sports a bright 8.7-inch display with a 1,340 by 800 HD resolution that's perfect for Netflix binges or reading under the covers at night. Since the device is equipped with an Octa-core processor and has the Google Play Store on board, it's a great choice for teens who want to install social media apps, play games, or run multiple apps simultaneously. However, we wish that its parental controls were as thorough as Amazon's tablet.
On the plus side, parents can install Samsung Kids, an expansive library of educational games, books, and videos that are kid-friendly and easy to monitor and control. It's worth mentioning that the Tab A7 Lite does not include a bumper case, but you can find a compatible one in a wide range of colors at Amazon.
The device is equipped with 32 or 64GB of storage — perfect for parents who want to fill it up with plenty of videos and apps before a long road trip. And it has dual cameras that'll come in handy for Skyping the grandparents or making YouTube videos. Other highlights of the tablet include up to 4GB of RAM, expandable memory, and 13 hours of battery life, which together make it a powerful and capable pick for a reasonable price.
If you still have some questions about buying your child a tablet, take a look at our FAQ section below.
At what age should you give your child a tablet?
Like with any child-focused gadget, you should err on the side of caution and know that the device could be used to collect and sell data or could be potentially compromised to listen in on your kids. So, it's necessary to use parental discretion to decide if you think a tablet is beneficial for your child to use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under 18 months avoid screen time — with the exception of video calls. The association advises that all screen time for kids aged 18 to 24 months occurs with a parent or guardian.
If you’re curious about time limits, the association recommends limiting screen time to just an hour each day for kids aged 2 to 5. Children aged 6 and up can have increased usage, just as long as parents set time limits and restrict use to “high-quality” programming and apps.
Most experts also agree that you shouldn't give children a tablet around bedtime, and a tablet shouldn't get in the way of exercise, family socializing, or mealtime. The New York Times wrote an informative walk-through on how and when to limit kids' tech use that we also recommend checking out. It also published a guide on how to set up a kids' tablet.
How do you pick a tablet?
Choosing a brand of kids’ tablet should ultimately come down to your child’s age. Manufacturers like LeapFrog and Amazon make tablets that are well-suited to younger kids because of their drop-proof bumpers and modified operating systems. For instance, Amazon’s bevy of kids’ tablets runs a watered-down version of Android that’s easier to use, and it doesn’t have the Google Play app store installed on it. Instead, it has the Amazon App Store, where you can install third-party, kid-friendly versions of apps. You’ll have to jump through more hoops to install apps like YouTube, Netflix, or TikTok than you would on a Samsung Android tablet or an Apple iPad.
When your kids get older, they’ll probably want a more grown-up-looking tablet that looks like the one you use. Of course, you can “open up” Amazon and LeapFrog tablets to allow access to regular Android apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok when you decide the time is right. Amazon's Fire tablets even have different user experiences depending on which type of profile (Child, Teen, or Adult) you select when you set it up.
No matter how many settings you modify, however, you can’t change the tablet’s kid-centric, brightly colored, and well-protected exterior. Your son or daughter probably already knows what a real tablet looks like because they've almost certainly borrowed an iPad or Android tablet in the past from a friend, a relative, or even you. Fortunately, Amazon sells the Fire 7 Kids Pro, Fire HD 8 Kids Pro, and Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablets that feature slimmer and more grown-up-looking cases. Of course, you can remove any of Amazon's bumper cases when your kid outgrows them, too.
What apps are included?
Tablets for kids oftentimes come installed with kid-friendly apps and web browsers, and they can even offer parental controls to limit usage and prevent in-app purchases. For example, Amazon's Kids+ service offers instant access to thousands of books, educational apps, videos, and games that are perfectly suited for kids 10 and younger. The service — which is available in English or Spanish — costs $2.99 each month, but when you buy an Amazon Kids tablet, you get a 1-year subscription for free.
LeapFrog and Samsung’s tablets also have kid-centric platforms that are quite good. LeapFrog Academy is a learning service aimed at preschoolers aged 3 to 6 years old, and it costs $7.99 a month with a 2-month free trial. It’s packed full of books, games, puzzles, videos, and music, all centered around traditional school subjects to inspire creativity, problem-solving, and social skills. LeapFrog also sells a $24.99 6-month plan and a $39.99 annual plan for additional savings.
Samsung’s service, the aforementioned Samsung Kids, is suited for kids 3 to 8 years old, and it costs $7.99 each month (or $59.99 for a year). Your subscription includes an expansive library of educational games, books, and videos featuring some of your child's favorite characters from shows like Super WHY, The Octonauts, and My Little Pony.
What about the iPad?
The iPad doesn't have a kid-centric subscription service unless you include its game-centered Apple Arcade service, but it does offer the widest catalog of apps out of any tablet that we've named. Priced typically more than $300 (after tax), you may deem it too expensive for your child.
Today, the tech giant sells a slightly more affordable version, the iPad 8th Generation, which comes with a larger 10.2-inch screen (compared to the iPad mini's 7.9-inch one), 32GB of storage, the same A12 Bionic processor, and support for the Apple Pencil. Although we think that iPads offer the best selection of apps, games, and educational content in the business, we think that you should only buy one for your child if they're responsible enough to take care of one — especially considering their steep asking price and shortage of parental controls.
We also think an iPad is the best tablet for school because they have the most powerful processors that support almost any app. Not to mention, they are incredibly common, so your child can easily get tech support when they need it.