The 9 Best Tablets to Buy for Kids in 2018

The best devices for children to work or play on

Children playing with LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition
Photo from Amazon

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Try as you might to limit your child’s screen time, tablets have become a staple in most households. They can be used recreationally to surf the Web, stream Netflix and play games or for educational purposes such as reading. But putting technology in the hands of kids can be dangerous, for many reasons, which is why it’s important to choose the right tablet for your needs. Is it durable enough for your preschooler? Does it have the proper parental controls for your pre-teen? Is it powerful enough for your teenager? To save you some stress, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite tablets for kids.

Best Overall: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, 8" HD Display, 32 GB

The eight-inch Amazon Fire tablet tops our list for the best tablet for kids, thanks to its durability, parental controls and great battery life. It has a beautiful, 1280 x 800 (189 ppi) display, 32GB of storage (expandable up to 256GB via a microSD card) and 12 hours of battery life. These factors combined make it a far more than just a toy, but rather a worthy educational device. The tablet comes with one free year of FreeTime Unlimited, which grants access to more than 15,000 apps, books and games from kid-friendly companies such as PBS Kids, Nickelodeon and Disney.

On top of that, the Amazon Fire has extensive parental controls that let you manage up to four individual profiles. You can set bedtime curfews, restrict screen time, limit access to age-appropriate content and even block Angry Birds until reading has been completed. The Kid-Proof Case comes in blue, pink and yellow and the device even has a two-year, no-questions-asked warranty.

Best for Teens: Apple iPad with WiFi, 32GB, Space Gray (2017 Model)

When your child has graduated to a more responsible age, Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad makes an excellent option. Although it’s a bit on the pricey side compared to others on this list, it has a flawless 2048 x 1536 Retina display, plus an A9 processor with 64-bit architecture and an M9 motion coprocessor. Together they team up to make streaming Netflix, playing games and browsing the Web a breeze. Worried about too much screen time? Apple has a nifty Night Shift mode that ditches the blue hues believed to disrupt sleep if used right before bedtime.

If your teen already has an iPhone or use a Mac at school, he or she will feel instantly at home using the iOS software. If not, it’s intuitive nonetheless and has a vast selection of apps, both educational and er, not-so-educational. It has a decent rear-facing eight-megapixel camera and a less-impressive 1.2-megapixel front camera, which is disappointing because it could be a great tool for FaceTiming, but selfies are better suited for smartphones anyway. It doesn’t offer any killer new features over the previous model and unfortunately lacks support for the Apple Pencil, but it’s a bit cheaper than the iPad Pro and iPad Air 2 if you can live without them. Overall, it’s a fantastic tablet and the one that your teen is likely already begging you for.

Best for Pre-Teens: Lenovo Tab 4, 8" Android Tablet

When your child has outgrown the bumper-clad tablets but isn’t quite ready for his or her own yet, the Lenovo Tab 4 makes a great option because it’s fit for the whole family. It can be customized for up to seven people, with each profile allowing different access settings, interface and storage. The add-on kid’s package includes a shock-resistant bumper for drops and bumps, plus a blue-light screen filter and fun stickers. It’s also integrated with curated, kid-friendly content, scheduling tools to limit use and browsers that surf only whitelisted sites.

But no matter your age, you’ll appreciate its brilliant eight-inch HD display, speedy quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM and impressive 20-hour battery life. And if you’ll mainly be using it to watch movies and TV shows, you’ll love its two high-quality Dolby Atmos speakers for immersive sound. Reviewers on Amazon praise the fact that it’s one of the cheapest tablets you can find that runs the latest Android Nougat.

Best Budget: Dragon Touch Y88X Plus 7 inch Kids Tablet 2017 Version

No matter how you spin it, putting an expensive tablet in the hands of a child is dangerous. It’s bound to get dropped, dunked or even lost. So we don’t blame you if you are wary of spending $100+ on one. Lucky for you, this tablet comes in at under $70, but still manages to check most of our boxes: It’s highly durable, with a soft silicone case that comes in pink, blue, orange and green. It comes pre-installed with loads of kid-friendly content, including Disney ebooks and audiobooks. And it has advanced parentals controls that let you set timers and restrict access to certain material.

Even though it’s designed for children, it still packs a fast-performing quad-core processor, has a 1024 x 600 IPS screen and runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), which gives you access to just about every app you could want. All in all, it’s truly an incredible value.

Best for Parental Controls: Verizon GizmoTab

If your child is perhaps too young to have full access to the web or to unlimited screen time, the Version GizmoTab allows for a decent amount of supervision. The GizmoTab is essentially a Verizon Ellipsis tablet, just programmed with additional parental restrictions. With the GizmoTab, you can set up one-hour intervals over a 6-hour period (or unlimited). Also, to give your child an incentive to utilize the tablet’s library of educational games, you can reward their progress with increased screen time.

The children’s interface appears geared toward a younger audience (ages 3-8), with colorfully animated islands that can be navigated using an avatar; akin to other social simulator games like Animal Crossing. Each island features an array of educational games, but it's important to note they don’t come pre-loaded with the tablet. Internal storage is also fairly limited with only 6.4GB of the GizmoTab’s 16GB being available for extra downloads. Still, you can add storage space using a microSD card. The Verizon GizmoTab also features Wi-Fi connectivity and boasts five hours of battery life.

Best Pre-Loaded Features: Fuhu Nabi Elev-8

Buying a tablet is already going to cost you a pretty penny, so why pay extra to download apps? With the Fuhu Nabi Elev-8, you already have enough built-in games and features to keep your child entertained. Suitable for kids ages 6 and up, the Elev-8 comes pre-loaded with classic games like Fruit Ninja, Toca Cars, and even the Cartoon Network app. Additional games can be purchased from the Treasure Box app store. Also, if your children are a little older, and have artistic interests, they can express their creativity with the Dream Pro Studio which features three apps: Animator, Drawer, and Publisher.

The Fuhu Nabi tablet also offers a decent range of parental controls: track your child’s daily tablet use and set time restrictions. Also, entice kids to take on more responsibility around the household with the built-in Chore List feature which offers rewards in the form of “Nabi Coins,” which can be used to buy new games at the Treasure Box store.

The hardware is a bit slow compared to competing products but performs fairly well as long as there aren’t too many apps running in the background. The tablet comes in a drop-safe rubber case​ and boasts a six-hour battery life.

Best for Preschoolers: LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition

LeapFrog has become a leader in children’s educational entertainment and all of its LeapFrog Academy content is preloaded on its Epic tablet. The program grows along with your child, adding activities in areas he or she may need extra help in or more harder activities to keep him or her challenged. For the first three months, kids get unlimited access to hundreds of educator-approved games, videos, ebooks and music for free, but after the trial period, the content will cost $7.99 per month.

The tablet runs Android 4.4 and has a multi-touch, 1024 x 600 screen, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory. It also has dual cameras to take pictures and record videos. And with its basic parental controls, you can set what, when and for how long your child can use the tablet, for up to three profiles.

Best for Elementary School Kids: Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite Kids 7"

Elementary school can be a defining time for children as they begin to explore their interests, and this Samsung tablet helps nurture those interests by providing educational content aligned with STEM and common core curriculums. The tablet comes with a free, three-month subscription to Samsung Kids, a library of games, books and videos from kid-friendly companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Sesame Street, National Geographic and more. (The subscription costs $7.99 per month after that.) With the simple parental controls, you can set time limits, limit app access and monitor your child’s progress on the dashboard.

The tablet has a seven-inch screen backed by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 8GB of onboard memory (expandable up to 32GB) and runs Android 4.4. It has a rear-facing camera for taking pictures​ but lacks a front-facing one. Still, its durable bumper case and nine-hour battery life might be enough to sway you.

Most Versatile: RCA Viking Pro 10.1" 2-in-1 Tablet 32GB Quad Core Tablet

If you need a tablet that can double as a study buddy, grab the RCA Viking Pro with a detachable keyboard. This tablet beats out every other device on this list when it comes to screen size – a feature that makes this 10-incher even more comfortable to type on. It also comes equipped with a 1.4GHz MediaTek MT8127 Quad Core Processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in memory. It runs Android 5.0, which is surprisingly free of bloatware and can run your favorite apps, including Microsoft Office suite. It also has an HDMI input, a microUSB input, a USB input and a headphone jack, so you can hook up a host of peripherals such as a wireless mouse or speakers. Weighing just over one pound, it’s light enough to toss in a bag, making it a suitable stand-in for a full-fledged laptop.