The best tablet for your child will depend upon a number of factors including your budget, their age and what you might want them to use it for.
Many parents buy tablets to entertain kids on long journeys as well as at home. Others might want them for educational reasons, or communication with friends and family.
Some tablets are designed for very young kids, from 3-6, and those aimed at older kids may not suit younger children.
Conversely, when kids reach around 6 or 7, they no longer want what they see as a ‘baby tablet’ and will start asking for something a bit more grown up.
What is the best tablet for kids?
Right now, we think the best option for the vast majority of kids is the Amazon Fire HD 8. It costs £149.99 / $149.99 and includes three things you don’t get if you buy the non-Kids version of the Fire HD 8.
First is a two-year warranty that covers any accidental damage. So if your child manages to break it, Amazon will replace it. That breakage is less likely because a chunky case is included in the box to protect the tablet. But, if you’re buying it for an older child, there’s the option of a more grown-up-looking Fire HD 8 Kids Pro. That’s the same price, but has a slimmer, more age-appropriate case and a more grown-up interface as well (shown above).
Finally, with both tablets you get a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+ which lets your child play games, read books (including audiobooks), watch videos and other things – including educational apps – that usually cost money.
The best thing about these tablets is that they provide a safe walled garden that does a great job of making sure your kids don’t see anything they shouldn’t. But, you can remove some or all of these restrictions as they get older, reverting to the regular Fire tablet interface designed for adults when, say, they turn 13… if they’re still using the tablet at that point.
Although Amazon Fire tablets are not Android tablets and don’t have the Google Play store or any Google apps on them, Amazon’s Appstore still has a lot of popular apps that kids love, and they can watch YouTube (if you let them) via a web browser.
Older kids might well ask you to buy them an iPad. That’s one reason we’ve included latest iPad mini and iPad 10.2 here. The latter is cheaper than the iPad mini, and neither are what you’d call budget tablets. If price is a problem, you can find a refurbished iPad mini on Apple’s website, but there are more and more websites popping up which sell refurbished tablets as well as phones.
A couple of places to look include Back Market and Music Magpie (UK) / Decluttr (US)
Just don’t buy one that’s too old, though, as really old ones may not support some apps or might have poor performance. Another issue is that they’re quite fragile. But, you can always buy a protective iPad cases and Apple’s App Store has the widest selection of apps and games, many of which are free.
Apple gives you relatively good parental controls: you can disable Safari (to prevent web browsing), restrict music, videos, apps and games to the appropriate age level, and Screen Time lets you enforce time limits for certain apps, as well as a Downtime during which they can’t use it at all.
If you’re not going to buy any of the models already mentioned, you could go for a standard Android tablet intended for adult use. Then you’ll have to install a parental control app to ensure kids don’t see things in apps or online that you’d rather they didn’t. When kids are using tablets, keep in mind how much screen time is healthy for children.
The best tablets for kids
1. Amazon Fire HD 8 – Best overall tablet for kids
Price When Reviewed:
The Fire HD 8 Kids has a bigger, better screen than the Fire 7 – Amazon’s cheapest kids tablet – and it’s also around 30 percent faster. There’s also more RAM, more storage and you can expand that by up to 1TB using a microSD card.
Simply put, this means your child won’t complain that you’ve bought them a tablet that’s too small and slow.
The Fire HD 8 has stereo speakers and a convenient USB-C port for charging.
You have the option of the standard Fire HD 8 or a Plus model which costs £20 / $20 extra. For that, you get wireless charging and an optional dock which, in addition to charging the tablet wirelessly, enables Show Mode. This means it works just like an Amazon Echo Show and, with Alexa on-board, you can use it for video calls, music videos and watching Amazon Prime videos. However, that stuff works only if you’re not using a child profile, so it’s kind of irrelevant.
It’s worth knowing that the regular non-Kids edition of the Fire HD can work as a kids’ tablet because the software is identical. For the extra money, the Kids versions come with a bumper case, a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+ and a two-year warranty that covers accidental damage.
If there’s one thing that your child won’t love, it’s the cameras. The photos and video they produce are well below what kids expect these days. But for the money, the Fire HD 8 is hard to beat.
2. Amazon Fire 7 – Best budget tablet for kids
Good size for younger kids
Poor camera quality
Relatively small screen
Price When Reviewed:
The Fire 7 is best known for being the cheapest tablet around that’s worth buying.
The 2019 model is still the current one and has double the storage of its predecessor, a slightly better front camera and a choice of three colours.
It’s no hotrod in terms of performance, but it’s still the best tablet you can buy if you’re on a budget.
The Kids Edition comes with the same benefits as the Fire HD 8 and HD 10, but costs double at £99.99/$99.99, so isn’t quite as tempting as the standard Fire HD 8 which is simply a better all-round tablet.
3. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro – Best for entertainment
Good size for older kids
More powerful processor
Price When Reviewed:
Although it’s quite a lot more expensive than the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8, Amazon’s biggest tablet has a sharper screen, better battery life and the potential for faster charging if you use a 15W charger (a 9W charger is supplied).
Performance is pretty good for the price, but it’s still obviously a budget tablet and that’s evident from the plastic build and mediocre cameras (yes, even on Amazon’s best tabelt).
For entertainment, however, it’s a great device with decent speakers and a headphone jack (which all three Amazon tablets have).
We think the Kids Pro version is the best option if you’re going to spend this much, but the regular Kids Edition offers an identical tablet with a chunkier case that offers better protection, and is still a good option for younger kids under 7-8.
Whichever option you choose – and that will really come down to how old your child is – they come with a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+ and the two-year warranty that covers accidental damage.
Read our full
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro review
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 – Best Samsung tablet for kids
Android tablet with Google Play
Good battery life
Screen isn’t the best quality
Price When Reviewed:
If you’re looking for an affordable tablet for your child that runs Android and has all the usual Google apps, and the Play Store, then the Galaxy Tab A8 is hard to beat at this price. You’ll often find it for the same sort of price as the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids edition.
However, the difference here is that this isn’t specifically a kids’ tablet. That means no case, no special warranty, no included kids content and, importantly, no special interface that prevents your child from accessing the full internet and other content that might not be suitable. You can, however, choose to set the A8 up under a child profile and use Google’s Family Link app to put content and screen time restrictions in place: it’s just a bit more work.
It might called the A8, but this tablet has a 10.5in screen and great speakers, so it’s ideal if you’re after a bigger tablet. It’s not really powerful enough to play the most demanding games, but it should be ok for Roblox and other more sedate games that kids like to play.
You can expand the 64GB of storage using a microSD card and the cameras are a bit better than those on Amazon’s tablets. A full charge using the included charger takes around four hours, which is pretty slow.
5. Realme Pad Mini – Best Android tablet for kids
Premium, compact design
Great battery life
Limited update support
Small Android tablets are few and far between, especially from established brands like Samsung or Lenovo.
Realme might not have the same strong brand name and, despite being new to the tablet market, the company’s Pad Mini is a decent choice for kids. It’s nicely designed and has a 8.7in screen, all for a sensible price.
Battery life is very good and Realme hasn’t messed around with Android too much. It pre-loads Google’s YouTube Kids and Kids Space apps, and you can use Google’s Family Link app to manage screen time. It’s a good choice if you want to avoid Amazon’s Fire tablets and buy something with the Google Play Store.
There are a couple of drawbacks. One is its low-resolution display. Kids may not mind the mediocre performance, but the real challenge is buying one. It still isn’t available from Realme’s official online store in the UK. You can buy it from Amazon UK, but it isn’t available at all in the US.
Read our full
Realme Pad Mini review
6. Apple iPad 10.2in (2021) – Best tablet for drawing and writing
Great app store
A ‘proper’ tablet
Price When Reviewed:
£369 (64GB) (Was £319) | £549 (256GB) (was £459)
Older kids will certainly appreciate being given an iPad, but it’s a much more expensive option than any Amazon tablet.
Nevertheless, the 9th-generation 10.2in model (the 2021 version) is relatively good value at this price, which is a bit cheaper than the 2020 version. The base model now has 64GB of storage, but as even it isn’t expandable. The next step up – 256GB – is a lot more money.
There’s a newer 10th-gen model, but this is a lot more expensive.
You may want to look out for refurbished 8th- and even 7th-generation iPad 10.2 models; but bear in mind base models had only 32GB of storage, which isn’t really enough, even for a kid’s tablet.
Getting back to the software, the iPad 10.2 will get software updates for at least the next few years, and (like the 7th- and 8th-gen models) supports the Apple Pencil, which kids love to use.
Read our full
Apple iPad 10.2in (2021) review
7. Apple iPad mini 6 – Best premium tablet for kids
Great performance and screen
Apple Pencil 2 support
Price When Reviewed:
£569 (64GB) (was £479) | £749 (256GB) (was £619)
You’d be forgiven for assuming a smaller iPad would be cheaper, but the new iPad mini is a lot more expensive than the 10.2, and even the 10th-gen iPad.
The mini now shares the same design as the rest of the iPad range and has a slightly larger screen than previous iPad minis at 8.3in.
Base models still have 64GB of storage, despite the higher price, and support for the Apple Pencil 2 – which may not be important for kids.
If anything, the iPad mini 6 is overkill for kids, but if money is no object, it’s still a great device.
Read our full
Apple iPad mini (2021) review
Amazon Fire Kids Edition vs Fire Kids Pro: what’s the difference?
The hardware you get and the price you pay is the same for both: it’s the bundle and software that’s different.
Kids Editions come with a chunky, rugged case, a two-year warranty that covers accidental damage, plus a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+ which gives them access to a fairly good range of apps, games, videos and books.
Fire Kids Pro tablets come with a slimmer, more grown up case with a flip-out stand which puts the tablet at a suitable angle for watching videos hands-free. They, too, have the same two-year warranty and Kids+ subscription, but the content is tailored to kids from 6-12.
There’s also a new, more grown-up interface that older kids will appreciate. It includes a hand-curated web browser, and you can also enable a filtered browser that’s more suitable for pre-teens.
It’s handy to know that even the standard versions of the three Fire tablets come with good parental controls, the hand-curated safe web browser and the kid-friendly interface, so you can save money if you don’t want the case, warranty or Kids+ content. This means you do not necessarily need to buy the Kids Edition, especially if your child is already around 7 or older.
Conversely, the kids’ tablets also have the full adult interface (and Alexa), so when your children grow out of the restricted child-friendly interface, they can ditch the bumper case and start using it like a proper tablet.
What to look for in a kids’ tablet
You might see a specially designed kids tablet that isn’t in the list here. The biggest problem with these is that they often have a very limited selection of apps and games. As kids get a bit older and want to have the same apps as their friends, you might find you have to buy a new tablet because they’re just not available outside of an iPad or Android tablet.
We still rate Amazon’s range of Fire tablets highly, even if there are still some apps – particularly social media – which you can’t get on them. But if your child is older than around 8 or 9, we’d recommend going down the iPad or Android route if your budget allows.
Two of the main things you should consider are battery life and screen size.
Many kids’ tablets last around half the time of an iPad – which is about five hours. They can, of course, use their tablet while it’s charging, but it’s worth avoiding any that don’t charge over USB as this makes it awkward to power them on long car journeys. Amazon Fire tablets do charge via USB.
Younger kids might struggle with the size and weight of a 10in tablet, which is why the Amazon Fire 7 is a good choice all round. Its 7in screen is just the right size for small hands.
Rather than looking at processor speeds and RAM, read our reviews to find out if a tablet is fast enough to keep up with your kids. Gigahertz ratings aren’t a helpful guide in this respect.
A third important aspect is storage. If the tablet you’re considering has no microSD card slot (such as an iPad), you’ll have to start deleting apps, music, photos and more when the internal storage is full. It pays to get as much storage as you can, but it’s still a bonus to be able to expand that storage. Memory cards are cheap and even if a tablet doesn’t let you install apps on it, you can still use it for photos, videos and music.
Consider 32GB of storage the absolutely minimum, and 64GB the minimum we’d recommend. If you can afford more, great – your kids will thank you later. (They won’t, of course. But they also won’t moan that they’ve run out of storage.)
Finally, think about how they’re going to listen to any videos. Almost every tablet has Bluetooth, and you can get good, cheap Bluetooth headphones for kids. If they already have headphones that connect using a wire, then make sure you check if the tablet you’re about to buy has a minijack socket: some don’t.