The Guide to Buying the Best Tablet for Your Child

Posted on: 26.08.2016.

Author: Ana G

Many toddlers and preschoolers can often operate an iPad or smartphone before they can write their names or tie their shoes. Today's kids understand technology so well because it has been a part of their lives practically since birth.

While there are apps and features on tablets that allow them to be used as an entertaining toy, the devices can also be excellent tools for learning. When used properly, tablets can be an ideal way to introduce kids to the use of technology. They can help support a child's intellectual development and offer ways for kids to develop socially and emotionally.

kids using tablets 

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Because there are so many different tablets available and at a wide range of prices, choosing one for your child and knowing which features to get can be a challenge even for well-informed parents. While you should keep speed and hard drive size in mind, it is also important to consider a device that can handle a child's slippery and sometimes clumsy hands. You will also need a device that responds quickly, has child-friendly content and connects to an apps store that has affordable downloads.

The right tablet for your kids depends on how it will be used, and what works for your household might be different than what works for another family with kids. Before you make a decision on buying a tablet for your kids to use, keep  these factors in mind.

 

Who is Going to Use the Tablet?

The first issue to keep in mind is who will be using the tablet. Consider whether only the kids will be using it or if it will be used by grown-ups as well. If the tablet is going to be shared across age groups, look for a device that offers versatile programs and apps along with the ability to protect your content. Make sure that you can set up the tablet with different logins so that kids cannot access inappropriate information or share their locations or details. 

boy using tablet

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If the tablet will be used for just one child, keep in mind the longevity of the device. You might want a tablet that will grow with your child, providing you a better value. If you have children across a range of ages and they will share the tablet, you will need a device that is versatile enough to play short videos from educational websites such as PBS Kids as well as more advanced apps and websites such as First in Math for school-age children.

 

What Will the Tablet Be Used for?

Choosing the best tablet for your child will be easier if you are assured of its intended purpose. Before you buy, make a determination about whether the tablet will be used for learning or for entertainment during waits at the doctor's office or in the minivan.

girl using tablet

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Keep in mind that older kids might need to use the tablet to look up information for homework or school research projects. Pre-teens might even want to use the tablet for beginner coding and programming activities. Tweens and teens might also want to use the tablet to create art and videos. By considering the purpose of the tablet, you will be able to narrow down the list of options.

 

Parental Controls

Any tablet that your child uses should have the ability to install an app with parental controls or it should have a parental control system that is already built into the operating system. The parental controls allow you to make sure that anything downloaded to the device is appropriate for your child's age and development. The controls can also be set up to limit screen time. 

Keep in mind whether the tablet has built-in restrictions already in place for internet access, app purchasing and the amount of time that the device is in use. You may also want to consider whether you can install parental control apps of your choice. The ability to install child-safe browsers and to limit location tracking and activity recording can help you to keep your child's identity and location safe.

 

Durability

Kids have a tendency to bump, drop and sit on things. Durability will be an important consideration for a kids' tablet, especially if you plan to give it to a toddler or preschool-age child. Some tablets are built to be rugged when handled by kids, while others need to have a protective case placed around them. Purchasing a protective case separately from the tablet will be another expense to keep in mind. 

kid using tablet

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If you do buy an extra case, look for one with sturdy hand grips. Rubberized edges help to absorb the impact of a fall. Also keep in mind a protective case that helps to guard the device from getting dropped into water or having a drink spilled on it. Your child might be using the tablet for a few years, so consider how the child's dexterity and activity level might change as he or she grows.

 

Pre-loaded Content

The programs and apps already on the tablet are as important as the ability to find additional pieces of software to download. Make sure that the apps on the device are appropriate for your child's age and development. Some of the best kids' tablets come with kid-friendly apps and games that are already installed.

tablet apps

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Make sure that the software that is already installed is not just a trial version that you will have to pay to keep or upgrade to the next level of play. The quality of the pre-loaded content can also vary from one tablet to another, so do a little research in advance to find out whether or not the games, art apps, and other content are well-regarded by other parents and kids. You should also be able to select from additional apps to download as your kids' preferences and comprehension levels change with age.

 

Battery Life

If your child is going to use the tablet on a drive across the country, battery life and the ability to easily charge the device will be important considerations. You will want to make sure that the device will not run out of battery after just an hour of playing videos or games.

Look for a tablet that has a battery life of at least 8 hours of continuous use. Teens who use the tablet for videos and coding may need the battery to last for the duration of the school day without it needing to be charged. The more complex the app or task, the more battery life the tablet will consume.

 

Screen Size and Weight

Size matters when choosing a tablet that your child can actually handle and carry without dropping. Young children may not be able to lift and manipulate a tablet with a screen size that is larger than 10 inches, while pre-teens may not care for a tablet with a tiny screen that is smaller than 7 inches. Consider a smaller screen size for younger kids. 

boy using tablet

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Larger screen sizes are ideal if the device will be used for videos and games that require a lot of precision. Price also increases with screen size. Large screen sizes also cause the tablet to be heavier. A toddler might not be able to handle a tablet that weighs more than 2 to 3 pounds.

 

The Cost of the Device

Before buying a tablet, it is a good idea to set a budget. The expensive tablets have a lot of bells and whistles, but if you cannot afford it, then it is not the right tablet for you. Some of the high-end models may be more versatile, which could be a good investment if several of your children will be sharing the device. Enhanced versatility may avoid having to upgrade the device in just six months or a year.

The pricier tablets often have larger hard drives and faster processors, which would make it possible to upgrade the operating system or add new apps for your child as he or she gets older. These tablets also have larger screen sizes, which may allow you to delay the purchase of a new device for a few years. Less expensive tablets usually have a small screen size, lower resolution, and a slower processor.

The lower cost models may also have less storage capacity. If your child needs to use a graphics-heavy app, he or she might feel frustrated about the slowness. Low price tablets may not have as good of a camera if you and your child plan to use the device for taking photos or videos.

 

Conclusion

Tablets are a useful tool for entertaining and educating your kids. Because the prices and features on tablets vary so widely, it is important to make a priority list of what is the most important to you. Setting your budget will allow you to select a device that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.