5 of the best tablets for kids tried and tested
Looking to buy a tablet for your child for homework or entertainment? We've tested a range of tablets to help you find the best fit for you
It’s hard for parents to avoid technology like tablets with them becoming an increasingly big part of our daily lives. In schools – and even some preschools – they're used to aid learning and development. But it's difficult to know when to buy a tablet for your child, and once you've decided that, which one to buy.
Best kids tablets at a glance
The kids tablet market is flooded with cheap tablets that offer little in the way of durability or longevity, from both big and small brands alike. We’ve tested a range of kids tablets to create this list of 5 of the best kids tablets on the market today.
- Jump to what age is it appropriate to give a child a tablet?
- Jump to how to choose the best tablet for kids
- Jump to should you buy a tablet designed for kids
- Jump to best tablets for kids in 2023
While there isn’t any strict guidance on the best age to purchase a tablet for your child, many kids tablets do come with a lower age limit of 3 years. Screen time is obviously a very divisive subject, and it will be up to you as a parent to decide what's appropriate for your child. While the NHS doesn’t have detailed guidance regarding screen time, they do recommend an upper limit of 2 hours per day for all children. As the NCT notes, “The UK’s Chief Medical Officer suggests a ‘precautionary approach’ balanced against the potential benefits of using screen devices.” It is worth noting that the upper limit of 2 hours includes all screen time, including any at school, so bear this in mind when putting limits on time spent using devices and television at home.
Choosing the best tablet for your child will ultimately depend on their needs. Are you buying something for them to use to do their homework? Maybe you want something they can use to read books or watch TV and play games? For most parents and caregivers, the key things to consider when buying a tablet are:
- App store selection
- Screen size and quality
- Parental control options
App store selection and availability
Ensuring that you have access to all the apps that are relevant to your child is obviously important. Many kids tablets run either their own specific app stores or a truncated version of the Google Play store designed specifically with kids in mind. With tablets that run bespoke app stores, you may discover that some popular apps are missing. One example here is the lack of an official YouTube app for Amazon’s Fire Tablet range. This is why we suggest figuring out your main use cases for the tablet before making your purchase, to ensure that you’re picking the tablet with the widest possible app selection.
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During our testing, we paid close attention to the app selection in order to give you a clear idea of what to expect with each model.
It might seem obvious, but the screen quality is very important when selecting which tablet to buy. Many of the cheaper options on the market are manufactured using cheaper components, meaning the screen is lower quality.
Screen technology is exceedingly complicated and seems designed to confuse with excessive acronyms, which is why we’d suggest paying attention to a few key areas. The screen size is key: while a larger screen does offer more screen real estate for content, it can mean a less ergonomic tablet. Crucially, a lower resolution screen will also be more noticeable at a larger screen size so as you size up the screen, look at increasing resolution too.
At a lower resolution, small text, icons and images are prone to pixelation causing potential eye strain and discomfort. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should rule out a tablet with a screen at a lower resolution, though. If your child’s use case is more around entertainment and gaming, a lower resolution screen may not cause much of an issue. If you’re buying the tablet for any sort of reading, we’d suggest paying the extra for a better screen.
Many kids tablets come with built-in parental controls to help you manage the content on your child’s tablet. When buying any piece of technology for your child, screen time and digital safety is paramount, which is why robust parental controls are a must when buying a kids tablet.
Tablets specifically designed for children often run software that limits access to services like the internet and, as we mentioned, the wider app stores. These controls often allow parents the ability to limit access to specific apps and tablet features such as the camera or browser. They can also stop your children making expensive in-game purchases without you knowing.
When testing our recommended tablets, we took time to dive into the parental controls available on each model to see what controls are available to parents, how easy they are to access and how simple they are to implement. The most important features to look out for are the ability to setup a kids profile that restricts access to the tablet's main system settings, and the ability to restrict access to potentially harmful apps and services. You may also like the ability to set screen time limits directly in the device.
All of this might make you wonder if you need to buy a tablet specifically designed for kids or if you can just buy anything and supervise use. It's a good question: the benefit of buying a tablet specifically designed for kids is that special attention paid to the parental controls. Kids tablets place these controls front and centre, to make it easier for you to manage your child’s screen time and keep them safe online. Buying a generic tablet often means that these parental controls maybe less robust, more difficult to find or even missing entirely, making it that much more difficult to manage your child’s activities unless you're looking over their shoulder at all times.
That being said, generic tablets like the iPad do offer certain benefits over kids tablets. Most notably, there are a wider array of tablets on offer that aren’t designed for kids and often they include better components. This improved choice can help you to find a high quality tablet at a lower price point, something that might not be possible in the smaller, more restricted market of tablets designed specifically for kids.
Beyond the benefits for parents, children’s tablets will often centre content designed for kids, giving them quick access to the entertainment and education apps that they would want. Amazon Prime, for example, is already filtered to show only age-appropriate content tailored to children on their Fire Kids tablets versus their iPad app which is, by default, set to show all content.
1. Pebble Gear 7” Kids Tablet, £99.99
– Best budget option
Ages: 3-8 | Battery Life: Unknown | Screen Size: 7 inch | Storage: 16 gb | Expandable Storage: Yes
Of all the tablets we tested, the Pebble Gear 7” was by far the biggest surprise. From the ergonomic design with rounded edges to the solid build quality, the Pebble Gear is a great option for the price. The model we tested was themed to Disney/Pixar’s Cars, one of a wide range of Disney themed tablets that come with vibrant and protective plastic bumper cases and a range of Disney themed content preinstalled.
Setting up the Pebble Gear took a few minutes, only stalling briefly for an update, and is all taken care of via a streamlined step-by-step guide. Then you’re asked to setup your parental profile where you choose a 4 digit passcode before setting up the profiles for your children. You can have up to 4 child profiles on the device and they can each have their own separate profile picture and wallpaper.
Within the settings menu on the parental profile, you’ll find all the usual settings for a device of this type like Wi-Fi and brightness as well as a toggle for a blue light filter that can be enabled at a system level. On the parental control front, you are able to set screen time limits for both the weekend and weekdays as well as block access to specific apps. Beyond that, though, parental controls are limited. Another area where the Pebble Gear is lacking is around accessibility. There are no settings to control text size or to enable a reader or magnifier. In fact, beyond the blue light toggle, there aren’t any accessibility features available.
The screen itself, while not particularly high resolution, is surprisingly clear and bright with little in the way of pixelation around text unless it is particularly small on screen. It runs fairly smoothly, with nice animations when opening and switching apps, though it is worth mentioning that returning to the home screen and unlocking the device are quite sluggish.
Speaking of software, the tablet runs a version of Android meaning it has access to a trimmed down version of the Google Play Store called the GameStore Junior. You can access a range of apps including the YouTube Kids app which comes pre-installed - though this does require a parent to set it up. The interface itself is simple and easy to use on both the parents and children’s profiles, with content placed front and centre.
Overall, if you’re looking for a low cost, easy to use tablet with fun colour options, then the Pebble Gear is a great place to start. There are bundles available that include a pair of themed headphones and you can also purchase a range of accessories to match the tablet.
Pros: Exclusive Disney content, no in-app purchases, simple interface, quick setup
Cons: Minimal parental controls, no accessibility options, no power brick included
2. Amazon Fire 7 Kids, £114
– Best for younger children
Ages: 3-7 | Battery Life: Up to 10 hours | Screen Size: 7 inch | Storage: 16 gb or 32 gb | Expandable Storage: Yes
Amazon is one of the leading players in the kids tablet market and it’s easy to see why. The sturdy and simple Fire 7 Kids is a great first tablet with a robust case that will keep it well protected from drops and bumps. The tablet itself is well built with little to no noticeable bending when pressure is applied and the case provides a small lip to prevent the screen from coming into contact with the ground if dropped - though we would still suggest picking up a screen protector.
On the parental control front, the Fire Kids 7 offers a rich set of options that allow you to control everything from location services and camera access to blocking specific apps. When you set up a child’s profile, you are asked to input a date of birth which then automatically restricts content to only what is suitable for that age group. There is also a mode you can enable to automatically filter out harmful websites or, if you’d prefer, you can disable the browser altogether. Screen time can be monitored per user profile with a Daily Goals and Time limits option. You can set a time limit, and bedtime hours as well as goals for educational apps and videos. App purchases must be approved by a parent. In terms of app tracking, you can manage permissions for the parents profile but it isn't clear if this is an option for the kids profile. It doesn't appear there is an option to disable app tracking at a system level.
Speaking of apps, Fire OS and the Amazon app store offer a wide array of games, educational apps and streaming services. All the expected options like Netflix and Disney Plus are available and, given that this is an Amazon device, Prime Video comes baked into the system with all content filtered depending on the age of the child. As of writing, the entire Fire Kids range comes with a year of Amazon Kids+ with a range of age-appropriate content. You are, however, unable to access any of Googles apps, including YouTube, natively through the Amazon app store and though there are workaround apps, they aren’t as easy to use or secure as a native app.
Accessibility settings are available from within the parents profile, though they are buried quite deep in the settings menu. It also isn’t clear if any changes you make to the accessibility options within the parents profile will affect any or all of the children’s profiles on the device. Within the accessibility menu, you are able to control screen magnification, text size as well as speech to text.
Where the Fire 7 Kids falls down is the display. The 7 inch screen has a noticeably low resolution meaning there is pixelation around text and app icons often making text quite difficult to read. Smaller text is particularly pixelated - the clock, for example, shows up as quite pixelated. From a distance, this isn't really a problem, but up close the text becomes harder to read. The issue is less pronounced when dealing with thin text such as the menu bar at the top of the home screen.
The interface is fairly straight forward to use. It is all designed around apps, books, films and games that are specifically chosen for the child based upon the parental control settings input by the parent. Finding apps and games is pretty easy using search and all content is filtered depending on the parental control settings. Downloaded apps are placed in a 'recents' screen - though it is annoying that these apps don't disappear from recents when they are deleted and there's no option to remove them from the screen.
Overall, if you’re looking for a low cost tablet to use as an entertainment device or maybe for access to certain educational apps, then the Fire 7 Kids is a great option. It is particularly well suited for younger children due to the simple interface, robust build quality and lower specs than some of the other models in the range.
Pros: Well built, simple interface, wide variety of content
Cons: Low resolution screen, quite sluggish at times, packaging includes a lot of plastic, no Google apps
3. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro, £149
– Best for older children
Ages: 6-12 | Battery Life: Up to 13 hours | Screen Size: 8 inch | Storage: 32 gb or 64 gb | Expandable Storage: Yes
The Fire HD 8 Kids is similar in many ways to the Fire 7 Kids, with a similar interface, parental controls and app selection. You can enable or disable an 'expanded selection' of apps which restricts or allows access to apps like Netflix, Spotify and Minecraft/Roblox. The interface changes depending on the age of your child, with everything looking just a bit more polished and grown up from the app icons to the reduced emphasis on content.
That’s the real selling point of the Pro tablet versus both the 7 and HD 8. Everything feels and looks just that little bit more grown up. The packaging feels premium, with everything wrapped in recyclable cardboard or paper from the tablet body to the charging cable. The case too is less bulky and more sleek looking, with the colourways being less bright and vibrant and more muted. The only downside of the case is that it does lack that same robust protective bounce that you find with the HD 8 and 7 Kids models.
Of course, the main highlight of the HD 8 Pro is the high resolution display. When compared to the 7 Kids, the display is clear and crisp with no pixelation around text or icons. Text of all weights is easy to read and the sharpness and brightness of the panel makes it ideal for reading. If you have older children who love to read or are required to do more reading for school, the HD 8 Pro offers a great alternative to the traditional Kindle with a great deal more functionality.
Pros: Excellent display, improved battery life, sleek design, no plastic in packaging
Cons: Case is less protective, interface is still a bit sluggish, no Google apps
4. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids, £149
- Best overall tablet for kids
Ages: 6-12 | Battery Life: Up to 13 hours | Screen Size: 8 inch | Storage: 32 gb or 64 gb | Expandable Storage: Yes
The internal specs and price of the HD 8 are almost identical to the Pro model, with the big difference being the case that comes with the device. The ‘kid proof’ case included with the HD 8 Kids more closely resembles the case included with the 7 Kids. It is bulky, vibrant and has a textured back to help improve the grip. The case improves the ergonomics of the tablet by giving you more of a grip while holding the device.
The interface is similar to the previous models, with a robust selection of apps available through the Amazon app store including games like Minecraft and Roblox. The added processing power of the HD 8 shines when using more complex apps like these, easily justifying that extra spend. There are a number of UI quirks that are quite annoying, though. For example, when changing the wallpaper, if you're in landscape orientation and then select a new wallpaper, the screen will jump to portrait in order for you to confirm the wallpaper change. It then gets stuck in the portrait orientation until you move the device.
This speaks to an issue with the wider Amazon Fire range. The Fire OS is fairly limited in functionality and, while the app selection is good, isn’t as refined as the interfaces found on the iPad and devices from Samsung. Some of this is by design, but many of the more restrictive UI features, such as the prevalence of Amazon content, can be quite frustrating when in use.
This will, however, only be an issue if you are looking for a device that gives you a finer control over the interface. If you don’t mind using the Amazon Fire OS and you’re looking for a tablet that won’t cost the earth while also providing solid features and a great screen for reading and enjoying content, then the Fire HD 8 Kids is by far the best option.
Pros: Great display, robust case, wide selection of apps, no plastic in packaging
Cons: Fire OS is limited, some strange UI bugs, no Google apps
5. Samsung Tab A7, £140
- Best tablet for the whole family
Ages: N/A | Battery Life: Up to 10 hours | Screen Size: 10.4 inch | Storage: 32 gb | Expandable Storage: Yes
Outside of tablets designed specifically for kids, the Samsung Tab A7 is a great low cost tablet that provides access to a wide array of content. It’s on the larger size at 10.4 inches so it may not be best suited to younger children. But the sturdy design, a fantastic screen and great battery life makes it an ideal model for the whole family.
The Full HD display brings content to life making it perfect for streaming kids TV shows and films and playing games like Minecraft and Roblox with friends. It also means it has a high enough resolution for older kids who may need to use it to read books.
The design of the tablet is a little flimsy so you’ll definitely want to invest in a case as soon as possible. That being said, this does mean the tablet is on the lighter side. The biggest flaw with the otherwise great tablet is that its built-in storage is just 32GB. This is a measly amount of storage for any device, let alone a tablet you plan on using for entertainment and education. You can, however, expand this storage up to 1TB with a microSD, but you will have to pay extra for this.
Despite the bright screen, the device still has impressive battery life, clocking in at up to 10 hours of HD video streaming and more than a day and a half with everyday use. The device runs the latest version of the Android OS found on other Samsung devices. It comes with a feature called Samsung Kids, which functions similarly to the Amazon counterpart in allowing you to set up a child-friendly environment for your kids. This ensures that parental controls like content limiting and screen time are enabled when your child is using the device. It is this combination of the Samsung Kids app and the improved power that makes the A7 an ideal choice for the whole family.
Pros: Great screen, access to full Android, Samsung Kids app, excellent battery life
Cons: Not much built in storage, no case included
Available from: Amazon
How we tested kids tablets
When testing kids tablets, we focused on a few key areas including build quality, usability and functionality, parental controls and accessibility. Our focus was on finding out how each tablet performed in these key areas as well as looking at the packaging they are shipped in and the overall content available on each platform.
Where most technology testing is more focused on specs and performance, we wanted to focus more on how the tablet will be used by parents and children. We looked at the setup process, spending time testing out each of the parental controls and exploring the various menus to see what settings could be tweaked to make the tablet safer and more suitable for children.
We also looked at the build quality, testing the flex of each tablet to see if it would withstand heavy use both inside and outside the case.
Pic credit: Product websites
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