The best tablets for kids 2019

kids sharing a tablet

If you think your child is ready for a tablet of their own (or you're sick of them stealing yours), take a look at which ones Mumsnet users recommend, to help you make the right choice.

Things to consider before buying a tablet for your child

Screen time

A thoroughly modern parenting dilemma: how much screen time is too much? On the one hand, you can get so much done while your kids are peacefully absorbed in an episode of Octonauts, while on the other it's hard to avoid a pang of guilt as you plonk your child in front of a screen for the twelfth third time in a day.

Luckily, a 2018 study from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that there was not enough evidence to confirm that screen time is, in itself, harmful to child health at any age. Of course, this doesn't mean that the whole family now has carte blanche to scroll and swipe from dawn til dusk, but it does mean that you don't have to agonise every time your child settles down for an hour of Minecraft after tea.

The study suggests that, rather than imposing universal screen limits, you should try and build screen time around other activities like eating, sleeping and playing. They suggest you consider the following points when setting screen time limits:

  • Is your family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what your family wants to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

For more information on this study – plus Mumsnet user tips on managing screens and family life – take a look at our page on screen time guidance.

Age

Thanks to their lightweight and intuitive design, children are able to use tablets more easily than computers and from a younger age. As their parent, only you really know when your child is ready and, more importantly, when you're ready to introduce another pestering point into your life.

However, as a general rule of thumb, tablets that are specifically designed for children are (obviously) a great option for younger kids as they offer loads of parental control features. If you're buying for an older child, it gets a little trickier as they might not want something that looks 'babyish', so you'll have to check carefully and make sure that your chosen model has systems in place that will ensure they can only access age-appropriate content.

Budget

While there is a range of different models and price points in this round-up, a tablet is by no means a cheap treat and you'd be hard-pressed to find a quality option for less than £50. However, many Mumsnet users consider it money well spent and, thanks to an ever-increasing number of games, apps, and streaming services, you can be pretty confident that – if you take the plunge and buy a tablet for your child – it will get plenty of use.

The best tablets according to Mumsnet users

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition 32 GB Tablet, £129.99

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition 32 GB Tablet, £129.99

The most popular option – by far – on our Mumsnet Talk boards is the Amazon Fire Kids Edition. A Kindle designed especially with children in mind, it allows kids to play, watch, listen and learn freely and easily, but it also offers parents peace of mind thanks to fully customisable parental controls. The cost of the device includes a year's subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited (£1.99 per month after the first year) which gives your children access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, Audible books and games – across all Kindle devices – and allows parents to access a parental control dashboard.

Parents can set the standard controls on screen time and content, as well as set bedtime curfews, require parental permission to access social media, the internet, or to make in-app purchases. You can also set educational targets that have to be completed before they can get stuck into their favourite games and TV shows.

Just add a microSD card for up to 400 GB of additional storage (that's enough space to download every episode of Postman Pat ever and a lot more besides).

If you're still not convinced, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition was awarded the coveted and highly prestigious Mumsnet Rated badge, following rigorous testing by real Mumsnet users.

Battery life: 10 hours
Parental controls: yes
Storage: 32 GB
Guarantee: two years

“The parental controls on the Kindle are brilliant. My three-year-old daughter is getting a kids' Kindle (to stop her from stealing mine).”

“My daughter was three last Saturday and we got her a tablet for her birthday. She got the Amazon Fire for kids one, actually, and it's fantastic. In my opinion, it ticks all the boxes in terms of what I want in a children's tablet.”

“It's been brilliant for our five-year-old and can be as restricted (or unrestricted) as you want, including turning on and off times, maximum screen time, a minimum amount of 'learning time' before free time etc. It also comes with a good, robust rubber cover just in case!”

“Go for Amazon Fire with the kids' protective cover; we've got two for our three- and four-year-old and have had them for two years. They've been thrown down the stairs, trodden on and all sorts, and still work perfectly!”

Buy now from Amazon

Amazon Fire HD 8 32 GB Tablet, £99.99

Amazon Fire HD 8 32 GB Tablet, £99.99

Part of the Kindle family, this tablet is more than just an e-reader (though it is a great, lightweight option for bookworms). It's perfect for browsing social media, playing games, and streaming films and TV.

The kids' version of the Kindle Fire is aimed at children aged 12 and below, so, if you're buying for a teen or pre-teen, they'll get more use out of this more grown-up device. It doesn't have the rugged casing of the dedicated kids' device so they'll have to be a bit more careful (maybe just get a case), but it's just as easy to set parental controls that suit your family's needs – just sign up to Fire for Kids Unlimited (as mentioned above) and enjoy complete peace of mind for a couple of quid per month.

With a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5 GB of RAM, this small tablet packs a hell of a punch and will easily be able to keep up with your teen's scrolling and swiping. Plus, with 32 GB of memory – and an additional 400 GB available if you add a microSD card – they'll be able to download enough books, films and games to keep them occupied on even the longest of journeys.

Battery life: 10 hours
Parental controls: yes
Storage: 32 GB
Guarantee: one year

“My daughters have had Amazon Fire tablets for a couple of years now and they are still going strong. They have loads of games, and an easy-to-use child lock so they can only access them at certain times, and for a set amount of time – plus internet use is limited to the websites I allow.”

“My DS has a Fire as well. It's really robust, and we bought a cheap SD card to download films and Audible books so it has loads of storage on it.”

“Another vote for the Fire tablet. I've bought one each for five of our grandkids so far. They all love them and none have broken yet.”

Buy now from Amazon

Lenovo TAB3 7 Essential Tablet, £69

Lenovo TAB3 7 Essential Tablet, £69

The most affordable option on this list, the Lenovo TAB3 7 Essential is also the most petite; its seven-inch screen is perfect for little hands and it weighs just 300g (make no mistake, you will be the one who ends up lugging it in your bag).

Even though this Lenovo tablet is a budget option, it still has plenty of features to keep your family safe online. It allows you to set up multiple profiles on the same device, so children can be set up with a special kids account and parents can set limits on how long the tablet is used for, what sites kids are allowed to visit and which apps they can access. The screen is made from tough glass and has a splash-proof coating to help protect it from your kids.

Battery life: 8 hours
Parental controls: yes
Storage: 8 GB
Guarantee: no

“The Lenovo tablets are good and well priced for a decent spec.”

“Lenovo tablets are surprisingly good for the price, I went for one of those so I could install whatever parental control or ad blocker I wanted.”

Buy now from Amazon

LeapFrog EPIC Tablet, £62.94

LeapFrog EPIC Tablet, £62.94

For a tablet that is geared towards learning and brain development (as opposed to being geared towards watching as much Hey Duggee as possible), you can't go wrong with the Leapfrog EPIC. Though, of course, you can still download Netflix, Prime, and all that good stuff if you like. This tablet offers the best of both worlds in that respect, coming equipped with plenty of Leapfrog's educator-approved learning games, as well as the capability to download all your favourite Android apps.

The interactive home screen lets kids customise their tablet while 'Just for Me' learning technology personalises LeapFrog games to support your child's unique development. Another advantage of this tablet is that it's kid-safe and ready to go straight away – there's no need to manually set up parental controls. However, you can customise the controls to limit screen time, download new apps, or expand the 'safe' websites your child can visit. Every app is LeapFrog-approved, meaning there are no in-app purchases, no third-party ads, and you can breathe a little easier as they play Fruit Ninja to their heart's content.

Battery life: 6 hours
Parental controls: yes
Storage: 16 GB
Guarantee: one year

“My kids got LeapFrog Epic tablets two years ago; I love them. Very robust and kid-friendly. You can download free Android apps or pay to get advert-free versions from LeapFrog. You can put movies on there for plane journeys or they can access Netflix at home. It also has a camera, art stuff, and fun home screen. The kids (now nine and five) love them.”

Buy now from Amazon

Apple iPad mini 4 64 GB, £529

Apple iPad mini 4 64 GB, £529

Definitely not a budget option (and therefore probably not suitable for very little ones), the iPad mini is an investment that will last your child for years if well looked after.

Although it's not a tablet designed for kids, Apple offers some very sophisticated parental control options which allow you to hide certain apps – including core Apple apps like the camera and email – prevent any purchases, prevent children from playing explicit music, films and TV shows, and set screen time allowances using the Family Sharing function. If you're an iOS family rather than an Android one, Family Sharing allows you to link all of your devices together and control any child's device centrally.

Battery life: 10 hours
Parental controls: yes
Storage: 128 GB
Guarantee: two years

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