The 7 Best Kid's Tablets
7. B.B. Paw
6. LeapFrog LeapPad Glo
5. Cocopa 7-Inch
4. LeapFrog LeapPad3
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite
2. Dragon Touch Y88X Plus
1. Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
A Long Way From the iPad
No matter how you dress it up, there's something about the iPad that is distinctly not kid friendly. It's not that it's too complicated. I was once talking with a woman at the grocery store as her two year old boy swiped away at the iPad mini in the kart behind her. After some short pleasantries about the price of grape juice (it was on sale!), her boy began waving at her and tapping her on the arm, all the time saying, "Pahwud, pahwud!" That's two year old speak for "Password."
The little guy had navigated through the app store to a game that looked candy-like and undeniable, and had made it all the way to the point of purchase, with only his mother's password protecting her from surprise. So it's not an issue of complication.
Really, it's about cost and convenience. Most kids tablets are seven inches or smaller and cost under $200. That's a big difference compared to the hundreds lost when little Johnny suddenly decides to use your new iPad as a fly swatter. And if you've got a full sized iPad, placing it's weight, width, and worth in a toddler's hands is just terrifying.
So the market found a hole, and a dozen companies came along to fill it with bright colors, durable casings and apps designed to teach as much, if not more, than they were to entertain.
LeapFrog had already been designing its games just behind the curve of tech advancements for years, and their emphasis on education set them at a distinct advantage in software development.
But with a demographic most often under 5, the need for hardware research failed to present itself to LeapFrog with the same urgency, and now companies like Amazon and Samsung are presenting higher resolution screens and systems with which a kid can grow well into grade school.
You Know, For Kids!
What differentiates a kids tablet from a regular tablet? Really, it's nothing much. Think about how a Mercedes Benz by Power Wheels is different than the real thing, and you'll start to understand.
For starters, they're made a little more inexpensively. The resolutions aren't as high, the screens don't have as wide of a viewing angle, the processors are slower, and the batteries don't last as long. But don't let that discourage you; remember what would happen if you let your kindergartener drive your car to school.
Also, keep in mind that the specs on your iPad are what make it four to seven times the cost of these kids tabs, and that even the most durable of these products, in the hands of most well-behaved child has a limited lifespan. Odds are that, at some point, it will be dropped, kicked, slammed, flushed, blended, even burned. So don't fret too much about build quality.
That said, your kid deserves the best, I know. And you want to protect them, right? Well, that's where the important differences come in, and they're all software.
Kids tabs are going to have more comprehensive child safety mechanisms built into their software, as well as more child-targeted apps. You'll encounter options for multiple profiles (perfect if more than one monster is going to share one tablet), playtime limiters and tracking, content controls, and more. Plus, those kid friendly apps, especially if they're conveniently preloaded, are going to keep your babies entertained (and quiet?) while secretly teaching them a thing or two.
Buy It, Charge it, Swipe It, Like It?
Change is scary, but it doesn't have to be.
A long time ago, there was a technological advancement that proved rather controversial, and a prominent voice of the time spoke out vociferously against it.
The thought was that if we came to rely on this new technology we would lose our ability to be truly present with one another, our capacity for memory and for original thought would be all but destroyed, and our collective intelligence would degrade at a pace hitherto unforeseen, perhaps causing–or, at least, signifying–our ultimate end as a species.
I'm not talking about tablets, or the internet, or computers. I'm not talking about television.
The prominent voice speaking out against this new technology was Socrates himself, and the technology against which he railed was none other than the written word. Seriously, look it up.
All this is to address the looks of condemnation you're bound to get on that airplane or at that restaurant when some high-idealed Socratic type sees your kid with a tablet. And it is to say that there is nothing remotely inherently wrong with the technological advancement of our culture.
If this mean-spirited person (who probably doesn't even have kids) has the gall to say anything about it to you, all you need to do is ask them if they can read, if they enjoy the printing press, or if they make use of the telephone.
"Of course, I can read!" they'll defend. And you, knowing what you know of the value of the written word and the resistance it faced so long ago, can rest happily that this person is wrong, and that you're doing right by your babies.