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7 best kids’ tablets for learning, drawing and playing games

Stop them from ‘borrowing’ your tech, with these models that are toddler or teen friendly

Zoe Phillimore
Wednesday 06 October 2021 09:28
<p>We tested a range of tablets in a busy family of five, looking at how drawn the kids were to each screen</p>

We tested a range of tablets in a busy family of five, looking at how drawn the kids were to each screen

Research by YouGov shows that by the age of six, 85 per cent of British children have access to a tablet at home, while 40 per cent own their own. Yep, kids are crazy for tech.

Along with the fantastic learning opportunities tablets can bring, it can feel a little daunting as a parent. You don’t want to expose your child to too much, for too long. Work out what works for your family and your children, and go from there.

And as for safety, most tablets come with excellent parent controls, where you can check and limit screen usage and even the timings of when kids can use the tablet.

How we tested

We tested a range of tablets in a busy family of five, looking at how drawn the kids were to each screen. Did they spend long engaging with the apps, or was the screen cast aside quickly?

How easy to use were the parental controls, and how much peace of mind did they give? We also looked at durability – did these expensive bits of kit feel safe in the grubby hands of a child?

Read more:

The best tablets for kids for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Amazon fire HD 10 kids: £199.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best entry-point tablet – Amazon fire 7 kids: £79.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for pre-teens – Amazon fire HD 10 kids pro: £199.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best first tablet – Pebble Gear Disney Mickey and friends kids tablet: £119.99, Argos.com
  • Best high-spec tablet – Samsung Galaxy tab S7 FE 5G: £589, Samsung.com
  • Best for sharp display – Lenovo tab P11: £249.99, Lenovo.com
  • Best for the whole family – Amazon fire HD 10: £149.99, Amazon.co.uk

Amazon fire HD 10 kids

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Screen size: 10.1in
  • Resolution: 1080px Full HD
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Cameras: 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera

This is Amazon’s latest offering for younger kids. It’s targeted at three to seven-year-olds, and as such comes with a telling kid-proof bumper cover. It comes in three cheerful shades: blue, aquamarine and purple – all of which will appealed to our mini-testers. The cover also has a stand and a carry handle built in, which gives it instant extra practicality points from us.

The 10in screen is the biggest Amazon tablet for younger kids, and is a really decent size for watching the plethora of content that’s preloaded on it. Set up is easy, so long as you have an Amazon account. And Amazon have clearly worked hard to make parental controls that are very tight and easy to use.

Content is aimed at younger kids, so if you have kids at the upper end of the bracket they might outgrow the apps on offer. But, you have the option of granting more apps to be added, including social media, Netflix and iPlayer – so it stretches to meet older children’s needs.

We think this is a fantastic option for younger kids and it ticked all of our boxes for our criteria, both as a parent tester and a mini user tester.

Amazon fire 7 kids

Best: Entry-point tablet

Rating: 8/10

  • Screen size: 7in
  • Resolution: 1024 x 600px
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Camera: 2MP front and rear facing cameras

This indestructible screen is aimed at kids aged three to seven, but even our micro testers aged two loved it. The tactile bumper cover survived many drops, scrapes and even being thrown down in toddler rages. The screen size is 7in, but that feels about right for little paws to grab on to and swipe around. It comes loaded with Amazon’s excellent parental controls, for complete peace of mind. You can monitor usage, set up different time limits for different children, and even just switch off the device remotely.

As with all Amazon’s kids’ tablets, it comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon kids+, which has a mind-boggling amount of apps on it. It also includes a two-year “they break it, we replace it” guarantee – ideal with our less-than-careful testers. We liked the cheerful colours this tablet came in – easy to find in the bottom of a bag and quickly fish out and throw to tantruming kids in the car.

Amazon fire HD 10 kids pro

Best: For pre-teens

Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 10.1in
  • Resolution: 1080px Full HD
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Camera: 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera

A slicker tablet than some of its Amazon kids’ tablet cousins, the fire HD 10 kids pro (quite a mouthful) is aimed at kids aged six-12. With a slimline and smooth cover (with stand) and a sleek large 10in screen, it made our tester feel pretty grown up. Indeed, the whole family can use it thanks to being able to have multiple profiles on it – and yes, this is a breeze to set up.

It includes access to Amazon’s digital store, where kids can request apps they want to add to their account. Parents can then OK or veto apps they’ve requested. Handy as a reward if you want your kid to work towards something. And speaking of rewards, within the water-tight parental dashboard you can set educational goals for your child, with the option to not let them play with entertainment apps until they’ve met their set targets.

The fire HD 10 kids pro has a huge range of functions, and we reckoned it was a great device to share between adults and kids around the home. You can even use it with Alexa.

Pebble Gear Disney Mickey and friends kids tablet

Best: First tablet

Rating: 7/10

  • Screen size: 7in
  • Resolution: 1024x600px
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Camera: 0.3MP front camera, 2MP rear camera

The folks at Pear Gear teamed up with Disney to create an entry-point tablet for young kids. This, the Pebble Gear, is the result. The 7in screen is encased in a light-blue bumper cover. It’s not quite as comprehensive as the Amazon versions of bumper covers, but it is more lightweight for it. We found as it’s a paired back model that is really easy to set up.

There’s plenty of Mickey and friends content preloaded on the tablet. If Mickey isn’t your little one’s vibe then Pebble Gear also does other Disney versions including Frozen. You can also add other apps to the tablet in the app store. There’s about 500 apps there – which sounds a lot, but isn’t close to the likes of Amazon et al. However, you’re safe in the knowledge that none of them have any fees or in-game costs, so it’s a really child-friendly ecosystem.

As an added bonus, the screen has a polarizing filter to protect little eyes from harsh blue light. This tablet also came with matching Mickey and friends headphones for kids, which is great if you need to minimise noise.

As you might expect, the parental controls are bit more rudimentary – you can monitor what apps have been used, and limit screen time but that’s about it. However, with a device as safe as this one, we aren’t sure you’d need much more.

Samsung Galaxy tab S7 FE 5G

Best: High-spec tablet

Rating: 8/10

  • Screen size: 12.4in
  • Resolution: 1600 x 2560px
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Camera: 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera

This is the biggest screen we tested, and at a whopping 12.4in it feels pretty big in little hands – and quite sophisticated too. You can however buy bumper cases for it if your child is prone to dropping expensive bits of tech (ours certainly is). As well as being huge, the screen is ultra-bright and the sound is also really good on this device – this is certainly the best tablet we tried for watching films and TV shows for any period of time.

The Samsung kids app is pretty simple, and certainly suited to younger children. There are games but not to the level of others we tried. You can “migrate” apps to the Samsung kids screen, adding things like Netflix and any other apps you’ve downloaded. There are also parental controls so you can check up on what your little tech wizard has been up to. The Samsung Galaxy tab S7 FE 5G also comes with an S pen stylus, which made for lots of drawing fun for our mini tester. The battery life on this tablet is excellent, and it charges super quickly.

Lenovo tab P11

Best: For sharp display

Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 11in
  • Resolution: 2K
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Cameras: 8MP front camera, 13MP rear camera

Holy mackerel, the screen on the Lenovo tab P11 is brilliant. That’s thanks to the 2K resolution and 11in screen size, and it sure did make all content pop. And the tablet is super slim – the profile is just 8mm.

This isn’t a kids-only tablet, so feels a bit less “CBeebies prop” than some of the others. It does make it feel slightly dicey giving it to a careless kid, but there are all sorts of kid-friendly (or should that be “kid-proof”?) covers you can buy for it.

The Lenovo tab P11 operates on Android and comes with 64GB of storage – more than our mini tester would ever know what to do with. It also has Google kids space, which is absolutely brilliant. Set up a Google account for your kid, and they can then create their own avatar – something that kept our tester very amused for ages. Your child is then given access to age-appropriate apps, books on Google Play and kids’ YouTube. The interface is really easy to use, with cute kid-friendly illustrations.

The parental controls on Google’s family link are pretty smart too – you can opt for express profile set up, where Google applies controls based on the age of your child, or you can manually set it up. You can set up age limits for games, videos and websites – we set all ours to U, but you can go for PG, 15 and so on. You can also set screen limits, bed times (and have different ones based on the day of the week).

We really loved that you can also remotely ask the Lenovo tab P11 to play a sound – helpful if the tablet has been lost or hidden somewhere in the house. We did find the family link was much easier to use on our phone than on our computers, which was a bit frustrating. But it will ping your phone every time an app is downloaded (you can take this off if you want), and does a nice breakdown of screen usage. We were hugely impressed.

Amazon fire HD 10

Best: For the whole family

Rating: 8/10

  • Screen size: 10.1in
  • Resolution: 1080px full HD
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Camera: 2MP front camera, 5MP back camera

This is an Amazon tablet that’s actually not a kids-specific tablet. The 10in HD screen is a preferable size for our little tester and is 10 per cent brighter than Amazon’s previous tablets. The case however isn’t great for very young children – to keep the profile slim, the case definitely won’t withstand major drops. This is certainly a tablet more well suited for an older child.

You can use Alexa with this tablet, including to open apps and watch videos. As our tester seems to have a deep and meaningful relationship with Alexa this was a big plus for them.

If you have an Amazon family account all your profiles can be added to the tablet easily when you set it up. If you don’t, it’s easy to set up with a few details. This will then give your child access to Amazon kids+, which comes at a starting price of £1.99 per month. There’s heaps of content on there – it feels almost endless in fact. And with the kids profiles comes Amazon’s excellent parent dashboard where you can monitor and limit kids’ screen time.

The verdict: Tablets for kids

We struggle to fault the Amazon fire kids 10 – the kid testers loved it, the parental controls are top-notch and it felt pretty indestructible. And the hardware is pretty decent. The Amazon fire kids 10 pro is great for slightly older children, and if you just want to dip your toe in the tablet waters very gently, Pebble Gear is the safest tablet on the block.

Voucher codes

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Find more ways to entertain your little ones in our dedicated kids section

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