The best tablets for kids, no matter their age or your budget

Need a minute to yourself? Buy some alone time with the best tablets for kids

Best tablets for kids

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the best tablet for most kids. Amazon’s parental controls are second to none, you get a year of appropriate curated content, and a protective bumper and worry-free warranty. It’s a terrific package that’s by far the easiest option for parents of young children, but we do have some alternatives picked out.

We have test driven more than 100 tablets, many aimed at kids, to determine which are best for different age groups and budgets. We’ve also put these tablets through their paces with our own kids in the wild, so you can trust our verdict.

Best kids tablets at a glance:

The best: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: Created especially for kids, it’s durable, affordable, packed with age-appropriate content, and comes with a 2-year free replacement program.

Who’s it for: Young children with parents on a budget.

Why we picked the Amazon Fire Kids Edition:

If you’re looking for a tablet that’s safe and fun for young kids, then you won’t find a better deal than the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. The parental controls are excellent, allowing you to define exactly how much screen time your kids can have, as well as what they can and can’t access.

It comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which offers access to thousands of curated books, movies, TV shows, apps, and games that are suitable for your children based on their age. It costs $3 per month thereafter if you have Prime, or $5 a month if you don’t. You can also set up multiple profiles with tailored content to suit each child’s age.

You also get a chunky protective case available in pink, blue, or green. If your little angel does manage to break the tablet, there’s no need to worry because Amazon offers a no-questions-asked 2-year replacement warranty that covers accidental damage.

There is an older, 7-inch Kids Edition tablet, but the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is your best bet, even though it costs a little more at $130. The trouble with the 7-inch version is that the screen resolution isn’t great at 1,024 x 600 pixels. The HD 8 ups that to 1,280 x 800 pixels and also offers double the storage, at 32GB, as well as dual speakers for better sound.

The Fire Kids Edition won’t suit older kids, but it’s ideal for youngsters getting their first tablet. It’s a complete solution that’s quick and easy to set up, and has everything your child could want out of the box. For the money, this is the best kids’ tablet around.

Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition review

The best tablet for preschoolers: Leapfrog Epic

LeapFrog Epic
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: This tough tablet features great parental controls and plenty of educational apps and games to help your kids learn and develop.

Who’s it for: Very young children and parents looking for an educational option.

Why we picked the Leapfrog Epic:

The strength of the Leapfrog brand has been in creating educational software that’s tailored for different developmental ages, but is still a lot of fun for kids. The company usually limits devices to its own platform, but this is an Android tablet (and it’s better for it).

The Epic is aimed at children between ages 3 and 9, and you get a tailored experience with apps and content to match your child’s age. We think it’s best suited to the lower end of that age range. Kids can create their own home screens and there are apps, games, and other content that’s very well-designed, though you don’t get many full apps with the tablet — you’ll have to pay extra for the best ones.

The chunky protective bumper comes in green or pink. It also has a built-in stylus attached with a cord, which is ideal for budding artists. The parental controls offer all the depth you could want.

Sadly, this is another kids’ tablet with a poor-quality screen – the resolution is 1,024 x 600 pixels. It’s also slow and laggy, which can prove frustrating for wee ones and adults alike.

Overall, this is still a solid choice for young children, especially since it has come down in price. The durable design and the educational software elevate it above some of the competition.

Our full Leapfrog Epic review

The best tablet for 5 to 9 year-olds: Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon Fire HD 10 review (2017) horizontal angle
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: This great value tablet offers everything kids need and it gives parents plenty of control.

Who’s it for: Elementary school kids with parents on a budget.

Why we picked the Fire HD 10:

There is a lot to like about the Amazon Fire HD 10. It’s a good choice for slightly older kids. It offers a sharp 10-inch display, dual speakers, great performance, and up to 10 hours of battery life. What you miss out on, versus the Fire Kids Edition, is the bumper, the replacement program, and the first year of FreeTime Unlimited. The basic model of the Fire HD 10 has 32GB of storage, but it also comes in a 64GB version, and both sport a MicroSD card slot for expansion.

The Fire HD 10 also has Alexa enabled — which the Fire Kids Edition tablets don’t. People who have bought into the Amazon ecosystem, particularly Prime members, will get the most out of this device. FreeTime Unlimited can still be added from $3 per month, giving your kids access to a wealth of apps, games, TV shows, books, and more for a fixed fee.

You can set up multiple profiles and employ Amazon’s excellent parental controls to keep a firm grip on what your kids view. The Fire HD 10 tablet could conceivably serve as a family tablet, as it’s suitable for parents to use when the kids have gone to bed.

The cameras are very poor, but you won’t find a better 10-inch tablet without spending a lot more money. If your budget won’t stretch this far, consider the Fire HD 8 at $80. The screen is smaller, it’s not as fast, and the basic model only has 16GB of storage, but that’s all reflected in the reduced price and it’s a great deal for the money.

Our full Fire HD 10 review

The best tablet for 10 to 12 year-olds: Asus ZenPad 3S 10

Asus ZenPad 3S 10

Why should you buy this: Slim, stylish, powerful, and packed with useful features, this tablet will open up a world of possibilities for your kids.

Who’s it for: Older kids who need something more powerful.

Why we picked the Asus ZenPad 3S 10:

As your kids head toward middle school, they’re going to want a more grown-up tablet and they’re reaching an age where they can be trusted with it. The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 could be ideal. It’s one of our favorite Android tablets because it’s very light and portable, it has a sharp screen with a 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution, and it’s lightning fast. It is also not limited, like Amazon’s offerings — the full range of Android apps and games is available for the ZenPad 3S.

You can set up separate profiles for every family member, since this is a tablet that adults will probably want to use as well. You can safeguard access with the fingerprint sensor. If you want to install parental controls, you’ll find a wealth of options in the Play Store.

This tablet will serve equally well for watching movies, gaming, reading, or even doing homework. It also has a decent 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and boasts great battery life.

It will require a little more setup work than some of the others on our list. You’ll want to snag a case, set up profiles, and install some parental control software. It’s also more expensive, but it’s the kind of tablet that any middle schooler would be delighted to own.

The best tablet for teens: Apple iPad (2018)

apple ipad 9.7 2017
Julian Chokkatuu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkatuu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: A fantastic design, plenty of power, and the best tablet app library make this a truly tempting choice for teens.

Who’s it for: High school kids who want the best.

Why we picked the Apple iPad (2018):

The iPad is one of the best tablets available with no weaknesses, and it has everything your teen needs to work and play. It’s very slim, has a beautiful 9.7-inch display, and offers access to the best selection of dedicated tablet apps that you’ll find. Battery life is great, the camera is good, and it sports Touch ID.

For families already invested in the Apple ecosystem, this tablet makes a lot of sense, and may even be something to look at for younger kids if you have the budget. You can use Family Sharing to give everyone access to any apps, books, movies, or music that you’ve purchased.

Apple’s parental controls, called restrictions, allow you to dictate what your child can access on the iPad and you can restrict content by age rating. There are plenty of parental control apps if you want to maintain a tighter grip. In the 2018 iPad, Apple added support for the Apple Pencil, which could be ideal for the budding artist in your life, though you do have to buy it separately for $100.

If you want something that can serve as a laptop for your young student, and money is no object, then you might look at the iPad Pro 10.5 or even the Surface Pro 4. For a more portable option, consider the iPad Mini 4. But ultimately, the iPad has no real flaws and is sure to be a hit with your kids.

Our full Apple iPad (2018) review

How we test

We use all the tablets we test extensively. Primarily, we expect tablets to serve up content, and so we read on them, watch movies, play games, and test apps. We always make sure to check out additional functionality, including the cameras, to see how they measure up. The strength of the hardware and performance is weighed against the price tag to help us find the right recommendations. For this roundup, we also took into account the overall package, ease of setup for parents, and suitability for different age groups.

Some advice about kids’ tablets

We’ve tested out several different tablets aimed at kids, and the truth is that we’re generally disappointed with what we’ve found. Too many manufacturers serve up underpowered hardware with shoddy software on top. If you’re willing to do a little work, it often makes more sense to buy a good tablet that isn’t specifically aimed at kids, get a decent case for it, and install some parental control software yourself.

For a completely hassle-free experience that won’t cost much, we have recommended the Fire Kids Edition, but if you’re willing to spend more money, and engage in a little tinkering to set things up, you should look further down our list.

We strongly recommend avoiding any kids’ tablet that has its own operating system instead of Android, iOS, or Windows, especially tablets that have a cartridge system. These products are terribly limited and you’ll have to spend a fair chunk of extra cash to get more apps and games for them.

There’s so much choice on Android and iOS that you’ll be able to keep adding new apps and games for years to come. Even Amazon’s more limited Android app library is extensive and full of options for fun or education. You can also install streaming services like Netflix if you opt for a major platform.

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