The 10 Best Robots For Kids
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Every day, it is more apparent that the future belongs to robots - from the manufacturing floor to the operating room - so we might as well let our kids get used to working with them. With tons of droids, drones, and pet-like automatons to choose from, which one is right for your child will depend on the ideal combination of interactivity, mobility, programming, and playful learning experiences. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 03, 2020:
You'll always find something novel and exciting when you're shopping for robots for kids, and we've added several new models to our list during this update.
For those searching for robotics at a budget-friendly price point, the 4M Tin Can Robot and the KingsDragon RC are great for beginners, although their level of mobility and interaction is much lower than the more expensive models. Another well-priced newcomer to the list is the Learning Resources Botley, which is designed for young children as young as 5 years old.
We've also updated the information on all remaining listings, often upgrading them to the newer model, including the Lego Mindstorms EV3, the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Teach 'N Tag Movi, and the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox.
We removed the Anki Cozmo and the Sphero BB-8 because their prices grew too high relative to their ratings. The Hexbug Vex IQ and the WowWee Robosapien Blue are no longer available, and the reviews for the newer model of the Ozobot Evo are no longer up to par.
Finally, we added a new Special Honors listing that can take your child's interest in robotics to a whole new level - one that's completely out of this world.
November 22, 2019:
Ranking a list like this, we wanted to ensure that the top spots went to bots that struck a nice balance between the STEM learning potential they have to offer and the actual fun kids could have with them. No child wants to spend hours learning a coding language just to have a bot that walks forward without falling over.
In the process of reorganizing the list around this and a few other parameters, we struck the Mattel Kamigami from our ranking, mainly because it's too difficult to guarantee the durability of its foldable plastic components, and it's a little too easy to make the wrong fold in a piece and have it throw off the design and functionality of the whole bot.
In its place, we added the Lego Mindstorms EV3, which represents the peak of the company's robotics platforms, right down to its impressively fast Arm9 processor. This model is something that — like the Hexbug Vex IQ and the Wonder Workshop Pack — offers a lot of added value in its ability to be broken down and reconfigured in a completely different design, each with its own coded movements and abilities.
Spacecamp Kids work together during this 6-day camp to build robotic designs and test them in the air, on water, and on land. They learn cutting-edge technologies in engineering, programming, and wireless control with hands-on experiences like flying drones and piloting underwater machines. spacecamp.com
The Beginning Of The End
There are robots that have specific targeting systems built into them, as well.
Call me an alarmist if you will, but these robots are getting too smart. It's only a matter of time before they become sentient, and then all bets are off. The different kind of smarts ought to scare you in different ways, all of which, I'm sure, are delightful to the children interacting with them.
There are robots that can walk and talk and play a variety of games, all controlled by a simple interface with your smartphone. There are robots that have specific targeting systems built into them, as well. That might make for a nice comprehensive game of fetch, but those targeting systems are one mad scientist's experimental program away from changing the recipient of their focus to your vital organs. Fetch has never had higher stakes.
Maybe I'm getting worked up over nothing. After all, these are pretty small machines, right? It's like how I always felt watching the Child's Play movie franchise, the one with the little kid's doll who comes to life and goes on a killing spree. I never understood what stopped the protagonists from just drop-kicking him across the lawn and being done with it.
It isn't just the brawn we need to worry about, though. Many of these robots record sounds to flash memory and access Wi-Fi with the greatest of ease. Imagine if Nixon had had something akin to it.
For all my fear mongering about the impending robotic apocalypse, I hope you can see the humor in it. When your kids crack into these robots and either start assembling them, or just start playing with the ones that require no assembly, you'll see the sheer joy the toys impart on a developing brain.
Depending on the age of the child in question, and on his or her interest in the field, different bots will satisfy different tots.
The risk you run is that it'll never get fully built in the first place, and all that time, and money, and effort will have been for naught.
Some of these robots come fully assembled right out of the package. All you need to do is charge them up or add a fresh set of batteries and the play begins. Others require a much more intensive assembly process designed to give your child the feeling that they are the very engineers of mankind's destruction–er–I mean, of their playtime. The engineers of their playtime.
If your kid's a card-carrying member of the instant gratification club, you might not get as many miles out of a robot that calls for a detailed and patient in-house manufacture. The risk you run is that it'll never get fully built in the first place, and all that time, and money, and effort will have been for naught.
On the other hand, should your child display an acute aptitude for spatial reasoning and mechanical engineering, one of the larger, more complicated DIY robots can be the start of a very bright future in the STEM programs.
Either way, narrowing down your list of robot options starts with knowing your kids. And if your little one becomes the man or woman to unknowingly tip the scales against humanity in the years to come, you'll at least have a bit of pride to feel alongside all that fear.
A Slow And Steady Revolution
While the notion of robotic companions reaches back at least to Greek mythology, the practical implementation of robots as toys for children has a more recent history. In the 50s and 60s, toy robots were basically dolls with square bodies that looked more like elaborate walking toasters than anything else. Slowly, but surely, that would all change.
It operated on cassette tapes along with a system of yes/no, true/false and other binary questions marked along the tape.
A friend of mine owned an interactive toy robot when we were about 10. It operated on cassette tapes along with a system of yes/no, true/false and other binary questions marked along the tape. When you answered a question, it would tell you whether you were right or wrong and play out the following section of tape, which explained the right answer.
The toy was called 2-XL, and it was an updated version of a toy made by the same company in the late 1970s. The 90s version looked a lot less like a tape player and a lot more like a robot, somewhere between Rosie from The Jetsons and the antagonist of a forgettable 90s VR action-thriller called Evolver.
While 2-XL had personality, he didn't really have any kind of mobility, and that's at least half the fun with robotics.
Those joint structures, along with facial recognition software and other advances that are developing at an incredible rate among robots in the US and Japan, are also creeping their way into our kids' toys.
It's unlikely that we need to worry about the robots indoctrinating them to their side in the great technological wars to come, when man and machine face off in one protracted contest for superiority with the very planet upon which these wars rage standing as the sole potential spoil. Having your kids more familiar with the bots might give them a tactical advantage on the battlefield, though.