- Tablets are easy to pick up and use for kids of all ages, and they offer a window into a world of entertainment and learning.
- With a large, bright display, elegant design, and the best choice of apps and games, the 10.2-inch Apple iPad is the best tablet for kids in our book.
Tablets serve as an easy introduction to touchscreen technology, and most homes nowadays have at least one lying around. They’re excellent for browsing the web, reading, playing games, and watching movies or TV shows. The best tablets for kids also have a special place in the hearts of parents, because they’re effective at keeping kids entertained on road trips, in queues, or when you just need a few minutes to finish a call or get dinner served up.
With larger screens and fewer communication options than smartphones, tablets can be easier and safer for kids to use. Many tablets also come with comprehensive parental controls and child-safe content. Put all of that together, and it’s no surprise that tablets are often the first gadget children use on a regular basis.
Finding the best tablets for kids can be a real challenge. Trust me, as a dad of two demanding little angels, and as a tech journalist for more than a decade, I’ve tested out a wide array of kiddie-focused tablets. The sad truth is that the kids tablet label has too often been used as an excuse to serve up sub-standard devices running clunky proprietary software. I won’t be recommending anything like that here.
Luckily, most of the big manufacturers have realized that kids are going to be using their products, and so thoughtful child-friendly features and solid parental controls are now widely available. I’ve included a selection of picks here that will suit all ages and almost all budgets.
Here are the best tablets for kids:
- Best tablet for kids: Apple 10.2-inch iPad
- Best small tablet for kids: Apple iPad Mini
- Best value tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
- Best tablet for younger kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
- Best tablet for very young kids: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition
- Best Android tablet for kids: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
Updated on 03/19/2020 by Simon Hill: Completely overhauled article with new picks in all categories for 2020.
The best tablet for kids
The 10.2-inch iPad is the best tablet for kids with a big screen, loads of apps and games, and long battery life.
Apple’s tablets have long ruled the roost, and deservedly so, as they offer elegant design, slick software, and strong performance. The idea that you need a separate category for kid’s tablets is debatable. Everything that makes the 10.2-inch iPad our top pick of the best tablets for everyone applies to kids.
It’s slick, easy to use, and has plenty of stamina. The aluminium body is reasonably tough, but a case is still advisable. The Lightning port makes plugging in to recharge easier for small hands, because it’s always the right way up, whereas Micro USB can be a real problem for kids and broken ports are common on other tablets.
The 10.2-inch screen is the real star of the show here; it’s bright, sharp, responsive, and easy to look at. You’ll also have no shortage of content to choose from because Apple’s App Store is positively packed with educational apps and games. There’s also a large selection of kid-friendly movies and TV shows.
Since individual pricing for movies or games can be steep, you should consider subscription services like Apple TV+, and you can always install Netflix and other streaming services that you’re signed up to. Apple Arcade also offers a selection of quality games, free of adverts or in-app purchases, for $5 per month – my daughter loves Sneaky Sasquatch.
If you’re looking for a family tablet that everyone will share, this iPad is the most likely to satisfy everyone. It also makes sense if you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, because you can share content with the whole family and manage certain settings easily from your iPhone. Apple’s parental controls allow you to filter objectionable content, restrict purchases, block apps, and set screen time limits, but they do require a bit of time and effort to set up properly.
This is Apple’s cheapest iPad, starting at $330, but that’s still a lot of money. The 32GB of storage in the base model is also a little stingy and the only way to get more is to upgrade to the 128GB model for an extra $100. You’re also going to need a protective case and you’ll likely spend a fair bit on content, but if you have the budget there’s no doubt this is the best tablet for kids of all ages.
Pros: Easy to use, large screen, loads of high-quality apps and games, long battery life, excellent performance
Cons: Expensive, parental controls are limited, fragile
The best small tablet for kids
- Simon Hill/Business Insider
Perhaps the perfect size for a portable tablet, the iPad Mini also packs a real punch and offers access to a vast library of apps and games.
While it’s ideal to have a big screen, large tablets can be difficult for small hands to manage and they’re not as portable. The perfectly-sized iPad Mini is the right choice for anyone seeking a small tablet, but don’t let the diminutive stature fool you, this is a mighty tablet with plenty of processing power and long battery life.
Just like the regular iPad, the iPad Mini has an elegant aluminium body that will likely survive some knocks, though you should plan to buy a case. The screen may be smaller at 8 inches, but it’s incredibly sharp and vibrant. This size is ideal for reading, but still big enough to make playing games or watching movies enjoyable.
As with the 10.2-inch iPad, the iPad Mini makes the most sense for families with other Apple devices because you can configure things like screen time limits or approve app installations at any time, and wherever you are, on your iPhone. You can also share subscriptions or content with the whole family across your Apple devices.
Compared to other tablets, you have a lot of work to do with a new iPad Mini in getting your parental controls configured to filter content, limit screen time, block apps, and restrict purchases.
The iPad Mini is also very expensive, starting from $400, which is even more than the basic iPad. The extra cash gets you a faster processor, a bit more storage in the base model at 64GB, and a better front-facing camera – but, unless you really need something more portable, the 10.2-inch iPad is a better buy. You also have to factor in a protective case and content purchases on top, which make the iPad Mini a relatively pricey option.
If budget isn’t a problem, any kid would love to own an iPad Mini, and my 10-year-old son frequently “borrows” mine. This is an excellent choice for older kids and teens.
Pros: Powerful, portable, long battery life, and a huge choice of high-quality apps and games
Cons: Very expensive, parental controls are limited
The best value tablet for kids
- Simon Hill/Business Insider
A big screen without a big price tag and a library of age appropriate content make the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition a tempting choice.
Amazon has cleverly created a kid-friendly range of affordable tablets that offer a complete package that’s impossible to beat if you’re on a budget. This is the biggest member of the Fire family, and it boasts a 10.1-inch display that’s plenty sharp and bright.
The utilitarian plastic design matters little when it’s encased in a thick, child-proof case. Amazon’s tablet comes with a thoughtfully designed bumper case that redirects the speakers to the front and has a fold out stand on the back to prop the tablet in landscape for watching movies.
While it’s not especially speedy, Amazon has put a decent processor in this tablet and 2GB of memory (RAM), so it doesn’t suffer from the same lag and delay that can plague some of its smaller tablets. There’s also 32GB of storage out of the box with room to expand via Micro SD card.
Battery life is also decent, so you won’t have to charge up that frequently, and with a USB-C port it’s not a problem when you or your little one does have to plug in because the cable can connect either way.
What elevates this tablet for kids above others is the fact you get one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited with your purchase. You can select a suitable age range for your child during setup and they’ll get access to thousands of movies, books, TV shows, games, and apps specially curated for them and totally age appropriate. The choice refreshes, so in theory, they should never get bored, but you can also add your own choices to the mix, whether it be Minecraft or Netflix.
The parental controls Amazon offers are also the best around. You have a one-stop settings panel where you can fine tune limits on different activities, which means you could block games after half an hour a day, but still allow reading, for example. You can also filter content, choose precisely what to allow, and schedule down time.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition costs $200. After the first year, the FreeTime Unlimited subscription costs $3 per month for Prime members or $5 per month if you don’t have Prime. You can also just drop the FreeTime Unlimited altogether, but you’re limited to the Amazon Appstore for apps and games and it has a much smaller selection than either Apple or Google offers.
My seven-year-old daughter loves this tablet and uses it every day. I think the curated content is mixed, but there’s some decent quality stuff in there, and it’s certainly very convenient. It’s undeniably nice not to have to field constant requests for new apps or in-app purchases. Because this is a complete package, you can open it, configure it and then hand it over to your wee one and not have to worry again.
The ease of setup, comprehensive parental controls, and bargain price make this the best value tablet for kids of all ages.
Pros: Easy to set up, great parental controls, big screen, curated content, affordable price
Cons: Amazon Appstore is limited, subscription costs after the first year
The best tablet for younger kids
- Simon Hill/Business Insider
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is affordable, packed with age appropriate fun, and offers effective parental controls.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a solid, portable tablet that comes with many of the same advantages as its bigger sibling, the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition. You’ll enjoy access to the same comprehensive parental controls, enabling you to specify precisely what your child has access to and when they can use their tablet.
You get a year of FreeTime Unlimited subscription, offering curated content that includes books, movies, TV shows, apps, and games all especially chosen for different age ranges. There’s also a 2-year, worry-free warranty, which means that Amazon will replace the tablet, even if your child broke it accidentally (or intentionally) – this warranty applies to all of Amazon’s Kids Edition tablets.
The Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch screen with a respectable 1,280 x 800 pixel-resolution, which works out to 189 pixels per inch (ppi). The display is bright and legible, though it does fall well short of the display in the HD 10, which boasts 224 ppi. Compared to the HD 10, the HD 8 also has a slower processor, less RAM at 1.5GB, and slightly less stamina in its battery.
It’s not so underpowered as to be annoying to use, but it does feel a beat slower to load apps and switch between games. Both my son and my daughter used this tablet for years, and it has held up well. However, at 10 years old, my son rarely uses his anymore and my seven-year-old daughter will choose the HD 10 over it unless it has run out of charge. It comes with a child-proof bumper, though sadly there’s no kickstand on the HD 8 case.
Once again, there’s 32GB of storage, which isn’t a great deal, but there is also room for a MicroSD card, which gives you a relatively cheap way of adding extra storage.
One last downside of the HD 8 versus the HD 10 is the Micro USB port, because it requires the charging cable to be plugged in the right way. When they were little, my kids struggled to plug it in and would try and force it, so the port on one of our HD 8 tablets is now a bit loose.
At $130, even with some of the cons I’ve highlighted, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a real bargain and makes an excellent gift for younger children between the ages of five and nine years old.
Pros: Easy to set up, effective parental controls, low price, curated content
Cons: Mediocre performance, Amazon Appstore is limited
The best tablet for very young kids
- Simon Hill/Business Insider
Affordable, durable, and ready to entertain your young children, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition is a good first tablet.
The right age for kids to start using tablets is the subject of some debate, but if you want a device that’s going to be safe and capable of standing up to a three-year-old, this is it. The Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition comes with an excellent, chunky protective case that has a kickstand on the back, so your child can easily prop it anywhere to watch cartoons.
As an Amazon Kids Edition tablet, it also comes with a host of age appropriate, curated content through the FreeTime Unlimited subscription service. You get a year’s worth of TV shows, movies, books, apps and games and you can set an age range, like three to five, for example, and the tablet will serve up a constantly changing menu that fits that age group.
Amazon’s excellent parental controls and 2-year worry-free warranty give you real peace of mind, which is especially important with younger kids.
There are caveats here, but before we dive into the cons it’s important to note the price. The Fire 7 Kids Edition is usually $100, but Amazon frequently discounts it – at the time of writing it’s just $60. There is nothing else that comes close if this is your budget.
The 7-inch screen has a disappointing resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels which translates to just 171 ppi. It’s still sharp enough for comfortable reading and watching movies, but it’s also a fairly dull display, which can be a problem if your kids are using it on road trips.
Performance-wise, this is the worst of Amazon’s offerings; irritating delays and a lack of responsiveness are par for the course with a slow processor and just 1GB of RAM. The battery life is also limited, and it only has a mono speaker – both the HD 8 and HD 10 have dual speakers.
My seven-year-old daughter will still occasionally use this tablet when her bigger one runs out of battery and she’s very forgiving about the limited performance, but the lag may be enough to drive some kids mad. Children under five years old likely won’t even notice these issues.
Compromises at this price are inevitable, but there’s no other tablet on the market that offers such a well-rounded package for so little. If you can save up just a bit more, the HD 8 and the HD 10 are worth the extra money, but this is still a smart choice if you’re looking for a first tablet for a very young child.
Pros: Very affordable, solid design, curated content, child-proof case
Cons: Slow performance, low resolution display, Amazon Appstore is limited
The best Android tablet for kids
Svelte, stylish, and slick, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S5e offers Android in all its glory with Google Play Store access.
With that slim, metallic body and minimal bezels around the screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e feels and looks positively luxurious. It’s surprisingly light and easy to handle, though you’ll need to invest in a case to protect it.
The stunning, 10.5-inch AMOLED screen adds to the impression of a high-end tablet and the 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution ensures that everything looks sharp. As this is an AMOLED screen, you’ll also enjoy deep blacks and strong contrast. Whatever your kids are doing on this tablet, the screen will delight, and it’s flanked by four speakers which make for a more immersive gaming or movie experience.
Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor and 4GB of RAM, which provides plenty of power for graphically demanding games. This tablet also boasts all-day battery life and a 13-megapixel main camera.
The big draw here compared to the rest of our list is the presence of full-fat Android. This isn’t Amazon’s forked Fire OS, this is Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s elegant One UI over the top, which means you have access to the biggest app store around in Google’s Play Store. There are a lot of apps and games in the Play Store that you won’t find in Amazon’s Appstore.
Samsung also offers a special Kids Mode, which allows you to set up time limits, restrict contacts and apps, and direct your children to a curated app store with educational offerings for kids from toddler age up to around nine or 10 years old. It’s not quite as comprehensive or adjustable as Amazon’s parental controls are, but it’s likely enough for most people.
In terms of style and performance, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range is as close as you get to the iPad, and the Tab S5e is the cheapest of the current crop, starting at $400. If you have the funds, but Apple’s iPads just aren’t for you, then this could be a decent pick. Any older kid or teen would love a tablet like this, and it could easily pull double duty as a tablet for kids by day and an adult tablet at night.
Pros: Very slim and stylish, sharp screen, long battery life, full access to Google’s Play Store
Cons: Expensive and fragile
What else we considered
- Tiggy Words/YouTube
My kids have helped me try out several other tablets over the years, and these are all current offerings that you might be considering. Here’s why they didn’t quite make our list:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 Kids Edition ($150): This is comparable to the Fire HD 8 in terms of performance and design, but costs more. Samsung’s parental controls aren’t as in-depth, and the bumper case isn’t as strong as Amazon’s, however, this tablet does have access to Google’s Play Store.
- LeapFrog Epic ($120): The strength of this tablet is educational content designed for younger kids, but a lot of the best content costs extra. Performance is poor, with frequent lag, and it has a low-resolution screen.
- Walmart Onn ($64): With a bargain price like this, you may wonder about a catch. Sadly, sluggish performance, shoddy software, and poor build quality make this impossible to recommend.