The 6 Best Tablets to Buy for Kids in 2018

Help your children learn with these top tech picks

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It almost seems like children are born knowing how to use technology these days. Cell phones, tablets, and computers have become essential tools of everyday life, and kids are reaching for them even before they learn to talk or walk. If you’re a parent looking to reclaim your personal electronic devices, you may be looking into buying a tablet for kids.

Whether you plan to use your child’s tablet as a learning tool, entertainment on a long car or plane ride, or a useful homework companion, there is a tablet that can meet your child’s needs. Some tablets for kids are designed with destruction in mind—for instance, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition offers a free replacement within the first 2 years of ownership. Many children’s tablets offer parents a variety of controls to limit access to inappropriate content, in-app purchases, or excessive usage. Some tablets for older kids feature more advanced technology and hardware—but will require more careful handling, or a heavy-duty case!

Choosing the best tablet for kids requires factoring in what the device will be used for, how long the battery life should be, and what types of child safeguards are necessary. The best kid’s tablets on our list will have your young one learning, playing, and exploring the world around them—while making sure you can hold onto your own device a little easier.

Please note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen media for children under 18 months be limited to video-chatting, and that children from 2 to 5 be limited to 1 hour of high-quality programming of screen time per day.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

It's hard not to be impressed by the parental controls, durability, and warranty that come packaged into the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition—making it our top overall choice as a tablet for kids.

The Kids Edition of the Fire HD 8 tablet features some upgrades over previous versions of the Fire tablet, including dual stereo speakers, 32 GB of onboard storage, and an enhanced screen resolution. Maybe most importantly, the battery life was increased from an average of 8 hours on previous Fire tablets to 12 hours on the Fire HD 8. This is a major plus for parents that want a tablet for kids on a road trip, airplane, or other adventure where a dead battery could cause a major meltdown.

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes with some of the tightest parental controls available in a kid’s tablet. Block access to the camera, web browser, settings, and more, plus you can set usage limits to keep tech time in check. Amazon’s FreeTime platform includes thousands of apps, books, movies, and more that are kid-friendly, but you can also grant access to apps from your parent profile.

Note that access to FreeTime Unlimited is free for the first 1 year, but then costs a small fee each month after that. The only real complaint that people have is the fact that Google Play and its available Android apps are blocked by Amazon. Instead, you’ll be steered to make all purchases from Amazon’s app store. If this is an issue for you and you are tech-savvy, there are readily-available workarounds on the Internet. But for a kid’s tablet, the apps available in FreeTime are at an advantage since they are safe for kids and don’t have any in-app purchases.

Maybe one of the biggest reasons to buy the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the fact that the tablet has a 2-year replacement guarantee. If your child breaks the tablet, simply send it back for a new one with no questions asked. This can offer a lot of peace of mind to parents worried about the risk of a child’s tablet being thrown, dropped, or stepped on.

Best for Toddlers: LeapFrog LeapPad Ultimate

The toddler years are marked by rapid learning and development, so it makes sense to pick a tablet that will help support active learning. The LeapPad Ultimate by Leapfrog is our top choice as a tablet for toddlers.

Leapfrog has been known for making educational electronics for children for years, and the LeapPad Ultimate is a tablet that offers fun learning activities in a rugged shell. The 7-inch screen is shatter-safe, and the battery life is approximately 5 hours. While some other tablets offer more in terms of battery life, this should meet the needs and attention span of most toddlers.

What parents love most about LeapFrog products, including the LeapPad Ultimate Tablet, is the fact that the games are developed with educational value foremost in mind. Unlike other games targeted towards children that may be engaging and entertaining but lack substantial learning opportunities, parents feel that the LeapFrog curriculum helps their children develop logic, reading, and math skills from an early age. Some parents have even returned to the LeapFrog learning system after trying out other tablets for their young children but being disappointed with the low educational value of the games available.

One thing that is a drawback to the LeapPad Ultimate is the fact that it still relies on cartridges for playing various games. So you’ll need to buy and keep track of these accessories to make the most of this tablet for toddlers. On the plus side, the system can easily grow with your little one and is recommended for children from the ages of 3 to 9.

Best for Elementary School: Samsung Kids Galaxy Tab E Lite

For your child in elementary school, you want a tablet that will help them to have fun, do basic research, and feel like a ‘big kid’—but still keep them safe on the Internet and when using the device. The Samsung Kids Galaxy Tab E Lite accomplishes all this and more.

The Kids Galaxy Tab E Lite looks similar to a regular version of the Galaxy Tab E Lite, except that it comes housed in a robust green case clearly designed with children in mind. Power on the device, and you’ll find it easy to set up ‘restricted profiles’ that set limits on which apps and settings can be accessed. Additionally, the parental control mode allows you to set usage limits and control tech time.

The Samsung Kids app is included free for 3 months and includes a wealth of kid-friendly content. After the free trial period, though, you’ll need to spend the extra few dollars a month if you want to keep the service. What sets this tablet apart for elementary-age kids is the fact that it easily spans the needs of younger and older children. As your child matures, you can remove many of the controls and the tablet functions like a regular Galaxy Tab E Lite. This also makes it a plus for parents who want to be able to use the tablet as a regular user with an admin profile.

Best for Middle School: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0

Samsung - Galaxy Tab A 8.0" (Latest Model) 32GB - Black
Courtesy of Best Buy

If your child is heading into middle school, equip them with a tablet that can tackle the tasks ahead, while providing plenty of fun and features. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 makes a great choice as a tablet for a pre-teen.

Samsung has a long history of making Android-powered tablets that are easy to navigate. The Galaxy Tab A is not the newest or highest-powered Galaxy tablet, but it offers a great combination of performance and value. The tablet includes 32 GB of onboard storage, plus a microSD card slot for expandable storage. A major plus for parents is the fact that Kids Mode and parental controls are available on this tablet. Set a timer or restrict access to certain content to keep your child’s tablet time in check. Even though the Galaxy Tab A looks and performs like a grown-up tablet, you can still retain control as your middle-schooler matures.

When it comes to getting work done, the Galaxy Tab A has the ability to multi-task and can open two apps side-by-side. Through the Galaxy App store, you can also download Microsoft Office products. If your child is a budding photographer or just enjoys taking the occasional selfie, the 5MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear-facing camera will meet their needs.

Best for High School: Apple 9.7 Ipad

Apple - iPad (Latest Model) with Wi-Fi - 32GB - Space Gray
Courtesy of Best Buy

If you’re looking for a tablet that will equip your student for high school and beyond, the 9.7 inch Apple iPad is one of the most popular options around.

Besides being the arguable leader in tablet technology, Apple makes a family of tech products that seamlessly work together to keep your high school student in the know on the go. While one of Apple’s biggest downfalls has always been its steep price tag, the 9.7-inch version of the iPad released in 2017 offers a great price-point and stays on the leading edge of technology.

And even though Apple has always clung tightly to their proprietary operating system, your student can download Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more from the app store. These versions may not be as robust as you’d find on your traditional Windows computer, but they’re sufficiently-powered to carry out the majority of high school activities. One of the major downfalls of the iPad, though, is the fact that there is no expandable memory or a USB drive. So buy one with sufficient storage at the start. To help you out, the base model of the iPad now comes with 32 GB of storage instead of just 16 GB.

The iPad is easy to use, wildly popular, and affordably priced for a premium tablet with a 9.7 inch screen. It makes a great tablet for a high school student. And since Apple regularly pushes out updates for its products, your teen may be able to use this tablet into the college years.

Best Budget: Dragon Touch Y88X Plus

If price is a major factor in your search for a kid’s tablet, then you need a budget tablet that won’t cause frustration for your child. The Dragon Touch Y88X Plus is a popular option that doesn’t require a big investment.

The Dragon Touch Y88X Plus comes wrapped in a chunky case that parents report has withstood drops and other accidents common in the life of a child. It also has the Kidoz parental control platform pre-installed, which allows parents to control app, video, and website access. The tablet arrives with 20 Disney e-books and 4 audio books to get your child’s collection started.

This budget tablet for a child doesn’t offer a warranty and isn’t the most robust technology available. But people found it surprisingly easy to use and report that many of the functions and features work quickly with minimal lag time. For well under $100 with a heavy-duty case included, this is a good choice for a cheap kid’s tablet that will keep your little one occupied.

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