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When it comes to shopping for a tablet for your son or daughter, 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 the availability of parental controls are features to keep in mind as a parent. Downloadable or pre-installed kid-friendly content is also essential.

How to Pick a Kids Tablet

Choosing a brand of kid’s 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 kid’s tablets run 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 Snapchat 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 that isn’t as locked down. Of course, you can “open up” Amazon and Leapfrog tablets to allow access to regular Android apps like Netflix and Musical.ly 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.

However, no matter how many settings you modify, 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, relative, or even you!

What Apps Are Included?

Kids' tablets oftentimes come pre-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 FreeTime Unlimited service offers instant access to thousands of books, educational apps, videos, and games that are perfectly suited for kids 10 and younger. The service costs $2.99 each month, but when you buy an Amazon Kids tablet, you get a one-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 1-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.

Samsung’s service, aptly named 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.

What About the iPad?

The iPad doesn't have a kid-centric subscription service, but it does offer the widest catalogue of apps and games. At over $300, you may deem it too expensive for your child. Apple used to sell more affordable iPad minis, but currently the only configuration available — the iPad mini 4 — comes with 128 GB of storage, resulting in an expensive price tag that hovers around $400.

Today, the tech giant sells a slightly more affordable version, the iPad 6th Generation, which comes with a larger 9.7-inch screen (compared to the iPad mini's 7.9-inch one), 32 GB of storage, a much faster 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 son or daughter if they're responsible enough to take care of one — especially considering their steep $329 asking price and shortage of parental controls.

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Ready to discover exactly which tablet for kids is best for your child's age needs and your budget? Shop our picks below for the best kid- and parent-approved options!


Learn More About Our Top Five Picks:

1. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition TabletCheck Price

Best Overall

Amazon

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Pro: Includes accidental damage protection

Con: The quality of the cameras isn't as strong as other tablets

Bottom Line: The 8-inch Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has parental controls, a tough build, and a 2-year warranty, and it's packed with a bevy of kid-friendly content.

Hands down, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the best tablet you can buy for your son or daughter. It has a tough build, a 2-year warranty, an 8-hour battery, and a 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 two-year "Worry-Free Warranty," which covers accidental damage. So, if your child jams a candy bar in the charging port or drops it 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. 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 FreeTime Unlimited, 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, but you may want to purchase a microSD card for more room for movies and games.

Amazon offers a cheaper 7-inch tablet called the Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, but we recommend springing for the more expensive 8-inch model because it has a faster processor, a bigger battery, and better speakers. For parents on a budget and who have slightly older kids, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10, which doesn’t have the chunky bumper case, but offers a larger screen and faster processor. Teens will also love the smaller Fire HD 7 or Fire HD 8 tablets, which are ultra portable and cost less than $100.

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2. Apple 9.7" iPad Tablet — Check Price

Best iPad for Kids

Apple

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Pro: Its user interface is one of the most intuitive and easiest to use

Con: Parental controls are lacking

Bottom Line: The iPad delivers an amazing blend of looks and performance, plus a wide selection of apps.

Considering its powerful and zippy processor, large hard drive, its gorgeous 9.7-inch Retina display, and recently added support for the Apple Pencil, the iPad is arguably the best tablet you can buy. It runs the best mobile operating system available, and it has a stellar 10-hour battery life. The iPad offers a 40% bump in CPU performance and 50% faster graphics, compared to the already speedy A9 chip found in the tablet’s predecessor. Not to mention, Apple's App Store has the widest selection of apps, games, and educational content in the business. Plus, there are plenty of rugged cases to choose from for the iPad that'll keep it in one piece when your child inevitably drops it.

The iPad is extremely powerful and can do a lot — it's capable of running augmented reality apps and games, it offers side-by-side multitasking capabilities, and it lets you quickly jot down notes or sketches with its convenient Pencil accessory. Despite all this, we don't think the iPad is the best tablet for kids. We named the Amazon Fire HD 8 the best kids' tablet over the iPad, not for its performance or expansive app library, but because it's a better value and has a much more extensive set of parental controls.

The iPad — which costs $329 for consumers and $299 for schools — has some settings to prevent access to explicit content, and prevent in-app purchases, but it lacks several features Amazon tablets have that parents will want to take advantage of. There's no setting on an iPad to limit how long your kids can use it. There's no way to make an iPad turn off when it's time for bed and keep it powered down until morning. There's no way to temporarily disable games or apps when your kids are supposed to be doing homework — unless you uninstall them completely. There's also no way to monitor how your kids are using their iPad. The Fire Tablet has all of these features and more.

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If you're fine with forfeiting these advanced parental controls, your son or daughter will love an iPad. It's so nice, you'll want to use it, too — but we think the iPad's lack of parental controls can't be ignored.

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Related: Read Our Full Review of the iPad

3. LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition Tablet — Check Price

Best for Toddlers

Leapfrog

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Pro: Almost everything on the tablet has an educational component

Con: Some content requires a paid subscription to access

Bottom Line: The LeapFrog Epic is a kid-proof and parent-approved tablet, thanks to its shatter-safe LCD screen, protective bumper, parental controls, and numerous educational apps.

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 shatter-proof screen for slippery fingers and tantrum throwers.

We're glad to see that the home screen is customizable, so your little one can easily access their favorite apps. The tablet teaches your child a new word every day, and it'll help them with spelling, reading, writing, and science. There are plenty of activities for your child to explore, but if they get tired of what's pre-installed, you'll have to pay a $6-per-month subscription for new content. Like Amazon's tablet, this one runs a modified, but easy-to-navigate version of Android with parental controls and a kid-safe web browser. It has 16 GB of expandable storage, dual cameras, Bluetooth, and a headphone jack. It comes in pink or green.

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4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8"Tablet — Check Price

Best Samsung for Kids

Samsung

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Pro: Impressive 14-hour battery life

Con: Bixby voice assistant isn't as powerful or helpful as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant

Bottom Line: Samsung's Galaxy Tab A is a great-looking and performing tablet that's easy to use.

The sleek and lightweight Galaxy Tab A by Samsung sports a bright 8-inch display with a 1,280 by 800 HD resolution that's perfect for Netflix binges or reading under the covers at night. It comes in black or silver, and it's one of the few affordable tablets that uses the newer USB-C charging port. This comes in handy for kids because the tablet's charging cable is completely reversible, making it easy to plug in and charge the device.

It's a powerful and portable pick that's powered by Android, and it has the Google Play Store, making it a great choice for teens, although 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. There are also several colorful kid-friendly cases available for this tablet, too.

The device is equipped with 32 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM, and it has dual cameras that'll come in handy for Skyping the grandparents or making YouTube videos. Other highlights of the tablet include a 1.4 GHz processor, expandable memory, and 14 hours of battery life. Plus, its metal frame helps protect the screen from shattering in the unfortunate event that you or your child drops it.

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5. Lenovo Tab 4 Tablet — Check Price

Best for Teens

Lenovo

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Pro: Affordable

Con: Lenovo's "Kid's Pack" screen protector and bumper case bundle comes at an additional cost

Bottom Line: The Lenovo Tab 4 offers the perfect balance of price and performance with its bright display and long battery life.

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The Lenovo Tab 4 is a budget kid-friendly tablet that runs Android's newer Nougat operating system. Although you can install parental controls on this tablet, it's worth noting that it comes with Google's Play Store pre-installed, meaning your son or daughter may have easier access to content you may not approve of.

It's equipped with a vibrant 8-inch, 1,280 by 800 resolution display in an all-glass body similar to the old iPhone 4, making it suitable for older kids who won't drop it. To protect it against scratches, scuffs, and drops, Lenovo sells a "Kid's Pack" that includes a screen protector, some stickers, and a shock-resistant bumper case.

The tablet, which comes in two configurations, has powerful front-facing Dolby speakers for watching videos. The smaller 8-inch model comes with 2 GB of RAM and an 11 hour, 4,850mAH battery, compared to the 10-inch model's 14-plus-hour, 7,000mAH battery and optional SIM card slot. The more expensive 10-inch model also has a slightly faster processor. Regardless of which one you choose, you can't really go wrong with either, considering their wide feature sets and attractive prices.

SPECS OVERVIEW

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