The very best tablets for kids 2021: find the best tablet for children of all ages
The best tablets for kids in 2021 are really great buys and come from a wealth of big names: not just Apple and Amazon, but also Samsung and Lenovo. You’ll also find a few names you might not have come across before.
Every child is different, and as a result we’ve included a variety of top tablets from across the market: budget bargains and premium options, tablets running iPadOS and tablets running Android, tablets tightly integrated with Amazon services and tablets offering total control over what your kids can access. No matter how old your kids or how tight your budget, you’ll find the perfect tablet for your kids right here.
Don’t worry if you’re not very techy. In our best tablets for kids guide we’ll junk the jargon and tell you everything you need to know: the features that matter, the corners you don’t want to cut and how easy it is to use parental control features. And of course we’ll help you find the best tablet prices too. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how affordable the best kids tablets can be.
In this guide we’re looking at the best tablets for kids, by which we mean tablets for toddlers, tablets for school children and tablets for younger teenagers. For young adults and grown-ups, check out T3’s comprehensive best tablets guide; if you know you want an iPad but don’t know which one to go for, we have a best iPad feature with everything you need to know. And if you’re looking for a slate primarily to read on, then you might also want to check out our best Kindle buying guide too.
The best tablets for kids you can buy today
This latest version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition doesn’t offer much of an improvement over its predecessor – a bit more memory, a processor that’s a bit faster, slightly longer battery life – but there wasn’t much wrong with its predecessor at all. This is our pick for the best kids tablet on the market right now.
What really makes this kids tablet appealing is what Amazon offers with it: a year’s free subscription to the Fire for Kids Unlimited service, offering more than 5,000 apps and games for your youngsters, plus a two-year replacement programme – if this tablet gets broken in that time, Amazon will replace it for free.
On top of all that, it’s very affordable, and comes with an inspired chunky rubber case that doubles up as a kickstand. It’s got everything you want in a tablet for children, even if other slates have better screens and faster specs.
To see how this tablet compares to a top-rated Apple slate that is suitable for children, be sure to check out T3’s Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Apple iPad Mini comparison feature.
Take a glance down this list and you’ll see how great the Amazon Fire HD tablets are for kids, and the 10.1-inch version is the biggest and most powerful of the lot (it’s also the most expensive, which is something to bear in mind when you’re choosing between them). As with the other models, you get a colourful, padded case that doubles up as an excellent stand for watching movies and making video calls.
The hardware under the hood is so-so, but the software is great: especially Amazon Kids+, which gives you a wealth of content (from apps to movies to books) for youngsters to enjoy. Do bear in mind that this is a tablet that will push you towards Amazon’s services first and foremost, and you will have to subscribe to Amazon Kids+ a year after you’ve bought the tablet if you want to carry on using it.
We can’t argue with the two-year replacement programme for the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids tablet, which gives you peace of mind should the worst happen, and we think it’s a device that your children are going to love. Note that these basic versions of the Fire HD tablets are aimed at kids aged 3-7, with Pro models available for older ones.
The entry level Apple iPad 10.2-inch (2020) is a great tablet full stop, but it’s also a great tablet for kids – albeit a bit more expensive than many of the other options we’ve listed here. It’s also less robust and more delicate than the dedicated tablets for children made by Apple.
Why should you consider it as a tablet for your kids? Well, you get Apple’s excellent iPadOS software, plus access to the huge Apple App Store. If you connect the iPad up to your Apple account, you can easily put parental controls and screen time limits in place, so your children won’t exactly be able to do whatever they please.
This is perhaps a better option for older kids, and it will grow up as they do – remember you’ve got plenty of accessories to pick from here as well, from the Apple Pencil stylus to a variety of clip-on keyboard covers.
The standard Fire HD 8 boasts an impressive specification that makes it a great and very affordable choice for older children. The non-Kids Edition has Amazon’s standard Android-based interface with access to the Amazon App Store, so all the key apps are there, and Alexa is enabled too. There’s also a useful gaming mode to prevent distractions.
The main differences between the standard HD 8 and the Kids Edition are the case, colours and storage: you don’t get a case with the standard HD 8, it comes in sober colours and you can spec it with 64GB of on-board storage. It’s often cheaper, too: at the time of writing Amazon UK is selling the HD 8 for £59.99 while the Kids Edition is £99.99. As ever with Amazon, keep an eye out for deals and don’t buy a Fire tablet that isn’t being discounted.
With a 7-inch screen, chunky rubberised casing, and custom Android tweaks, the Kurio Tab Connect is similar in a lot of ways to the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets – though if you shop around you might be able to get the Kurio device even cheaper.
Kurio installs its own suite of parental controls on the tablet, making it easy to limit your children to the apps and the sites you want them to be using. Underneath though this is just Android, which means a whole host of educational apps, games and tools are available, all through an intuitive, kid-friendly interface.
You don’t have to go hunting for apps as soon as you turn on the device though, as Kurio pre-installs a decent selection in advance. The tablet also supports multiple profiles, so if you have more than one kid using the Tab Connect, they can keep their stuff separate (handy for easing sibling tensions).
To see how this budget children’s tablet fares against our number one kids tablet choice be sure to take a look at our Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect comparison feature.
Now that Apple has seemingly remembered about the Apple iPad Mini again, it’s actually a decent device for those with small hands who want a bit of premium hardware to play around with. The A12 Bionic chip inside this 7.9-inch tablet is going to cope with everything your kids can throw at it and then some.
This being Apple, it’s expensive of course – this is going to cost you significantly more than an Amazon tablet, but then you might consider the extra software slickness and choice of apps worth the outlay. There’s no doubting the quality of the apps available on Apple devices, or the slickness of iPadOS.
It really depends how old your kids are and exactly what they want to do with their tablet, but if they’re more about video watching and app usage and less about scribbling with crayon all over their devices, the new iPad Mini is worth a look. They can get more creative now too with added Apple Pencil support.
As T3 notes in its full Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus review, this tablet is a great buy for families, with it delivering a really solid all-round package that will serve, kids, teens and adults alike.
The design of the Tab M10, too, feels far more premium than its attractive price would suggest, and it packs a 10.3-inch IPS Full HD 1920 x 1200 resolution screen. This display is great for streaming TV shows and movies from Netflix and Disney+ for example, and gives plenty of real estate for online browsing.
Importantly, for a children’s tablet, the Tab M10 comes with a dedicated Kid’s Mode, which is pin-code locked to prevent access by busy hands. Inside Kid’s Mode you’ll find videos, games, audio content and cartoons for children, with a mix of free and paid for apps on offer.
In terms of cameras, the tablet comes with a basic but functional 8MP rear and 5MP front selection.
Overall, a rock solid offering for a very attractive price point, with whole family usage on the cards.
Amazon knows how to put together a kids’ tablet (check out the 8-inch and 10-inch models as well) – the chunky build, the bright colours, the easy and accessible software… everything you could want as a parent is right here.
The specs aren’t fantastic, but then they don’t need to be. You get a two-year warranty, a year of the Fire for Kids Unlimited service (giving you access to a wealth of apps, books, games and more), and easy-to-use parental controls. If you don’t love it, you can return it inside 30 days for a full refund from Apple.
Amazon is promising seven hours of battery life, which should be enough for the longest car journeys, and offline support is good too for when your kids are away from Wi-Fi. This is hands down one of the best tablets for kids on the market right now.
To learn even more about this compact kids’ tablet, be sure to check out T3’s Should I buy the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition? guide.
If you feel like your kids need less hand-holding and would benefit from a tablet that’s actually an adult’s tablet as well, then give the Galaxy Tab A8 from Samsung a look – just from the design you can see that this is a much more serious device.
You’ll probably want to get some form of parental control software installed, but Android has plenty of options in that regard – and of course you and your kids have access to thousands of apps, games and educational tools through the Google Play Store. All the well-known apps are available here.
The spec and screen resolution isn’t the best on the market but then it doesn’t have to be, and you can pick up the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 for not much more than one of the Amazon options. Definitely one of the best tablets for kids at the moment.
To see how this tablet stacks up against a key rival, then check out our Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 comparison feature.
Another tablet that’s perhaps more suited to older kids who won’t be as likely to spill milk all over their personal devices, the Lenovo Smart Tab P10 offers a large 10.1-inch screen – more room for watching movies, playing games, and doing everything else that kids do when presented with a tablet.
The screen isn’t the only bit of the design that impresses, because it’s thin, and light, and it has some fairly decent speakers as well. There is a good amount of internal storage space on board, which should be enough for most kids, and Amazon’s Alexa AI assistant is built in, too. There are also some decent parental controls built in.
We think this tablet will be good for teenagers as it also comes with four built-in speakers, meaning they will be able stream movies and watch YouTube videos with a good audio experience, which younger children aren’t really fussed about.
Given Lenovo’s track record in laptops, phones, tablets and most other types of consumer electronics, you can be confident that you’re getting a quality bit of kit here – and as your child grows up, this tablet will continue to be useful.
The craze for 2-in-1 hybrid tablets made its way to the toy aisles too: this tablet from Kurio can be used as a small laptop and then detached from its keyboard and cover to work in tablet mode.
This is actually the second iteration of the Smart tablet: the first ran Windows and wasn’t very good. This is much better and runs Android with a Kurio interface on top.
The Smart 2 in 1 has a decently big 10” IPS touch screen and uses the same filtering system and parental controls as other Kurio devices to ensure your kids don’t access anything inappropriate.
Unlike some child-focused devices the Kurio doesn’t limit you to its own App Store: it comes with the Google Play store so you can enjoy the same apps as any other Android device, subject to parental controls. That means it’s likely to be a more cost-effective long-term option than some other kid-friendly devices. Just beware of ad-heavy apps: not all the advertising in child-friendly apps is age appropriate.
Don’t expect blistering performance or all-day battery life, but as a tablet/keyboard combination for younger children it does the job.
How to choose the best tablet for kids
There are several issues to consider when deciding on which of the best tablets for kids is right for your family. The first and most obvious thing is protection: little hands can be accident-prone, and we can’t be the only parents to be on first-name terms with the local tablet screen repairer. Many of the best kids’ tablets include protective cases; if the one you choose doesn’t, we’d strongly recommend getting one.
Screen size is a factor too. Too small and it might be awkward to watch some content; too big and the tablet can be too heavy for little arms. Some of the tablets here come with keyboards; others can connect to wireless ones over Bluetooth.
One of the key selling points of many kids’ tablets is parental control and filtering software, which you can use to prevent your little ones from accessing inappropriate content. Such software does work very well, but it’s important to note that it can’t always filter everything. We’ve found that even in Apple’s otherwise well-policed App Store, free ads often come with advertising that’s completely unsuitable for the age range the app is aimed at. If that’s a concern for you, most tablets enable you to prevent the kids from installing any apps or games without your permission.
When it comes to buying the best tablet for kids, what you’re looking for is going to be different compared to when you’re buying your own tablet. Raw power matters less than good parental controls and long battery life, and exterior design doesn’t matter so much when it’s going to spend all its time covered in crumbs.
We’d also recommend thinking about what your child is likely to want in a year from now, not just today: a child that’s quite happy with Peppa Pig clips now may well be a proficient platform gamer just months later. We therefore think it wise to buy a tablet for the age your child will be in one to two years time.
In very select circumstances one of the best foldable phones may be best for a child. If they are more of a teenager and can be relied on to not easily break a product, folding phones are great as they offer both phone and tablet functionality in one package. Worth considering as two birds can be bagged with one stone.
How we test tablets for kids
Testing the best tablets for kids differs slightly from rating slates for adults in terms of priorities. Safety of both the child and the tablet are paramount, and that means aspects like parental controls and device robustness carry a lot of weight.
Amazon’s kids tablets are best-in-class right now because of their superb parental controls, which allow guardians to really lock down exactly when they can be used and what the child can access.
And they also score really highly in terms of robustness, with Amazon not only supplying a chunky rubberised case for each tablet, but also offering a two-year guarantee where if the child breaks the tablet they just replace it.
So while specs and features are important, we’re looking for a strong core functionality with kids’ tablets, strong parental controls, and a build quality that instils confidence that at the first drop the product is going to be write off.
With these things established, we’re then looking at the user interface and app ecosystem the child is going to live in. If there is plenty of child-focussed content and apps (again something Amazon excels in thanks to Amazon Kids+) then we’re going to rate a slate higher.
At the bottom of the pile we have raw hardware specs, however battery life is something we factor in as kids aren’t the best at remembering to charge their devices. If a kids tablet runs for days on end, we’re going to find out.
When all these factors are considered we then judge the overall usage experience delivered and its value for money, before then bestowing a star score upon it. If the tablet has impressed it is then entered into T3’s best tablets for kids buying guide.
Published at Fri, 25 Jun 2021 09:57:57 +0000