The 8 Best Laptops to Buy for Kids in 2018

For school or play, here are today's best laptops for children

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The best laptops for kids are durable, have strong parental controls, and are powerful enough to run the programs and apps that a child needs — all without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for a laptop for a young child, pre-teen, or teenager, we’ve researched the field to compile a list of all the best options on the market now. We even sent a few models home with our testers to try them out and give their most honest feedback.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Asus Chromebook C202

3.7

The Asus Chromebook C202 is a great kid’s laptop because it can withstand all the bumps an bruises that are bound to happen. There's a reinforced rubber guard that goes around the entire laptop and protects against drops as high as 3.9 feet. And the addition of a spill-resistant keyboard will provide parents even more peace of mind. Even with all this protection, it's still lightweight at 2.65 pounds and has 10 hours of battery life.

Beyond protection, the C202 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, 16GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and has an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 anti-glare display. Additionally, as a Chromebook, parents won’t have to contend with potential viruses that could come from other computer platforms. Parents will also discover a slew of parental controls that can limit visits to certain websites, add screen time limits, as well as block potentially harmful extensions to Chrome that could compromise the computer experience.

Best Parental Controls: Acer Chromebook R 11

4.4

For parents who want a higher level of control over their kid’s time online, the Acer Chromebook R 11 convertible is an outstanding choice. The Acer Chromebook offers all-day battery life and a multi-purpose 2-in-1 convertible body alongside an 11.6-inch touchscreen display. While its performance might be more than good enough, it’s the parent-friendly features that really stand out.

Upon its first startup, a parent can create an account as the Chromebook “owner,” and turn on a feature labeled “supervised users.” Once enabled, parents establish a separate login for kids and can have blacklisted websites, prevent Google’s safe search from being turned off and capture all the Web activity that’s being used. Additionally, the “supervised user” cannot delete their Web history, making it viewable for parents who can also enable parental control on YouTube videos. Unlike Apple and Windows laptops, Chromebook has limited app download potential, so you’re free from worrying about viruses. Designed for quick and easy access to the Internet, the Acer R 11 represents a parent's best hope at complete control over what their kid does or does not do online.

Best Durability: Dell Inspiron 11.6-inch 2-in-1

Compact and affordable, the Dell Inspiron 11.6-inch 2-in-1 offers a well-rounded set of features that can assist with both school and fun. The Dell is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and has a 1366 x 768 LED-backlit touch display. What’s notable for parents is the inclusion of parental controls inside Windows 10 through the Family Web portal. It’s here that you can block specific sites, set a screen timer, as well as limit app and game downloads, essentially creating a fully protective environment for your child.

Beyond specs and parental controls, laptop durability matters, especially for kids, and Dell has tested its hinge more than 20,000 times along with 25,000 twists of the 2-in-1 display, ensuring this laptop is durable enough to last for years. With the integration of a touch display with Windows 10, the Dell offers the latest in Microsoft features, including support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint for schoolwork. Battery life lasts around nine hours.

Best Budget: Lenovo’s Ideapad 100S

Lenovo’s Ideapad 100S laptop marks a fantastic entry into the kid’s laptop arena and at a price that parents are sure to love. The 100S offers an 11.6- inch 1366 x 768 display, 2GB of RAM, an Intel Atom processor and 32GB of eMMC memory. It weighs 2.2 pounds, is .69 inches thin and manages to pack in just under 10 hours of battery life. The 32GB of eMMC storage won’t allow for a whole lot of music or video downloads, but, with Windows 10 and Office support, kids will have no trouble fitting in schoolwork.

Fortunately, you can add additional storage (up to 64GB) with an inexpensive microSD card purchase. Like other Windows 10 models, Microsoft’s Family portal is on-board, providing parents with peace of mind by blocking websites, as well as controlling any potential downloads. Additionally, parents can set a timer forcing the laptop to shut down to make sure kids aren’t staying up too late.

Best Battery Life: Apple’s MacBook Air 13-Inch

If you can overlook the long-in-the-tooth design, Apple’s MacBook Air is still one of the best all-around laptops. Powered by a dual-core Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage, the Air offers up to 12 hours of battery life. Additionally, it weighs just 2.98 pounds and is .68 inches thin, so it’s light and easy for kids to carry.

Beyond its solid performance, the MacBook Air couples with Apple’s parental controls to ensure a safe and happy experience for both kids and parents. Parents will rest comfortably knowing they can control the websites kids can visit, block the use of the built-in camera and restrict the people that can be messaged through the included e-mail and chat applications. There’s even more control available for limiting app, music and iBook downloads, as well as removing access to the printer and scanner settings.

Best for Schoolwork: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

When it comes to productivity for kids doing digital schoolwork, you want them to have the best tools. The Surface Pro 6 is a top-of-the-line tablet/laptop hybrid that, while it's on the pricier side, it really can do just about anything. Because it runs Windows 10, it can run Microsoft Office and the vast majority of educational software out there. It also can attach a keyboard if you need one or can connect to a digital pen for writing or drawing by hand.

The Surface Pro 6 is a beautiful machine with a 12.3-inch screen and 2,736 x 1,824 resolution. There’s also a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for doing video chat with lab partners or tutors. Additionally, the Surface Pro 6 has all-day battery life, which means it can last for the whole school day and still have some power left for homework. 

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best tablets for kids.

Best for Portability: Asus T102HA

Asus T102HA marks another 2-in-1 kid-friendly entry, but does so with a far more wallet-friendly price tag. Powered by an Intel Atom quad-core X5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB drive, there’s more than enough under the hood to handle both schoolwork and play. Kids will love the lightweight design (just 1.7 pounds) with the keyboard attached. The 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 display offers an adjustable kickstand for maximum viewing comfort, as well as a magnetic attachment keeping the keyboard locked to the display.

The keyboard and touchpad feel a little cramped for adults, but they're near-perfect for kids, providing an easy and smooth typing experience. Additionally, the laptop hides loudspeakers that are great for movie viewing and music listening. As a Windows 10 laptop, the T102HA includes Microsoft’s Family Web portal for additional controls over day-to-day use and keeps kids safe and protected when online.

Best Beginner: VTech Tote and G

The VTech Tote and Go laptop is a true beginner laptop. Appropriately suited for kids ages 36 months to six years, the VTech is a gateway entry into teaching kids real-world basics such as words, spelling, shapes, animals and more.

Kids will learn problem-solving skills through puzzle and logic games that help improve hand-to-eye coordination, which will come in extra handy when they jump into the adult laptop category. All totaled, there are 20 unique interactive activities, including teaching children to spell their own names, count their ages and explore shapes and numbers. There’s no question the VTech is a far cry from the Windows 10 and Apple’s OS X world, but you must start somewhere and the VTech Tote and Go makes it super easy.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 88 hours testing two of the most popular laptops available. We asked our testers to consider the most important features — from durability to overall value — when using these laptops and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Laptop for a Kid

Durability - Buying a laptop for a child is a big investment — and even the most careful of children tend to be rougher on their electronics than adults — so durability is very important. Size and weight also come into play, as a small child is more likely to drop a large, heavy laptop. Go with a laptop in the 11-inch range for pre-teens, and stick to the 13- or 14-inch range for teenagers.

Parental controls - Giving your child access to the Internet is an exercise in trust, but choosing a laptop with good parental controls allows you to provide your kid with the tools they need to succeed in school without putting them in danger. Chromebooks are good for this since you can create a supervised account to lock out dangerous sites, and the closed-app ecosystem helps prevent viruses.

Compatibility for schoolwork - If your kid will use the laptop for school, check to see what kind of computers they’ll use in the classroom and make sure that the laptop you get is compatible.

Test Results: Asus Chromebook C202 (Best Overall)

3.7

What We Like

  • Very portable

  • Great value

  • Durable

  • Impressive battery life

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited features

  • Smaller screen

Asus Chromebook C202
Asus Chromebook C202
Asus Chromebook C202
Asus Chromebook C202

One of our testers liked the “no frills” approach this Chromebook takes to giving young students exactly what they need for class. She said, “For the price, this has everything you need for school or home — docs and sheets, a camera, and Internet access.” Our reviewers also found that this laptop’s durability is “outstanding,” with one writing that it’s “something you notice from the first time you open the box. You can tell it's made for wear and tear.” This laptop’s battery life also gets an A+ from our testers.

Test Results: Acer Chromebook R 11 (Best Parental Controls)

4.4

What We Like

  • Stylish design

  • Intuitive touch screen

  • Google integration

What We Don’t Like

  • Inconsistent touchpad

Acer Chromebook R 11
Acer Chromebook R 11
Acer Chromebook R 11
Acer Chromebook R 11

Our testers reported that because this laptop comes with Google integration, powering through daily tasks is simple and easy. One of our reviewers also raved about its speed and responsiveness, saying it was “intuitive” and a “joy” to use. However, one of our testers did experience some ghost clicking, which caused the cursor to click on things when the user didn’t mean to. (This can usually be remedied by restarting the computer.)