Tablets help up stay connected to the people we love, provide us with hours of entertainment through videos and apps and can help us learn new things. Chances are, the kid in your life loves playing with your tablet. This may be great while you’re around, but a clumsy kid and a shiny tablet make a poor combination. Try one of these top five tablets for kids to provide your child, niece or nephew with a sturdy, kid-proof tablet of their own.
LeapPad 2: Marketed at three- to nine-year olds, the new LeapPad offers a sturdy interface that’s young-looking without appearing too babyish and will hold up to accidental drops better than your iPad. You’ll find improved battery life, better memory and a faster processor than the original LeapPad. The LeapPad 2 also features two 2-megapixel still and video cameras; one on the front of the Leap Pad and one on the back. One con: This device has an 8-hour battery life and does run on four AAA batteries, so you’re best off investing in a battery charger as well.
Tabeo: Sold exclusively at Toys-R-Us, the Tabeo comes pre-installed with kid-friendly games including Temple Run, Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. This tablet offers parental controls over content, is Wi-Fi enabled and runs on the Android system. Kids can access a pre-screened, youth-safe App Store. Appearance-wise, Tabeo is a white square with a safety bumper, it may look drab compared to other kids’ tablets.
Nabi 2: Similar to the Tabeo, the Nabi runs on Android, comes pre-loaded with apps and has a bumper to protect the device during drops. The red Nabi looks visually exciting; however, the device is thicker than other tablets. Nabi comes preloaded with 50 songs, 25 games and music. Cons: Wee fingers may struggle to turn the device on and the battery life is poor.
Kindle Fire 7”: Marketed as a family tablet, the Wi-Fi enabled KindleFire offers children games, apps and ebooks, yet offers the rest of the family gameplay and book-reading too. This can increase the device’s appeal for older children who may not want a kid’s toy. This tablet offers FreeTime, a feature that allows parents to set up profiles for each of their kids, so each child can access age-appropriate books, videos and apps. FreeTime allows for time-limits on activities; a parent can allow unlimited reading but limit gameplay to two hours, for example. Amazon Prime members can enjoy free ebooks and video content, another perk.
iPad Mini: The iPad mini is not a child’s tablet per se, although kids may enjoy using it. Sized between an iPad and an Phone, the iPad mini offers better cameras and display life than the iPad 2, though does not come with retina display like newer iPads. The basic version comes with 16 GB of storage. There’s no protective bumper, so think twice before giving this to younger children or purchase a protective case. Download apps, games and other content from the App Store; this comes pre-loaded with limited content.
These tablets cover the range from preschool to teen, so there’s bound to be something for kids of every age. Get a hands-on feel for using each device at an electronics store, then decide what’s best.