From a young age I knew my son was going to follow in both mine and my husband’s footsteps of being obsessed with everything gaming and technological. At around the age of 2 he was quite adept with daddy’s iPad, he would spend a good amount of time doing jigsaw puzzles and sorting dinosaur pieces according the numbers displayed on their bodies; this got us researching tablets for children. We wanted more than a device that would help him read stories or had him doing basic, pre-programmed activities which you get with most children’s technology such as LeapFrog and Innotab; we wanted an iPad for a child.
When he was 3 we decided to take the plunge and get him his very own fully functioning Android tablet for Christmas. We looked at tablets from all ends of the cost scale from the £20-£30 cheap ones all the way to the latest iPad trying to find what suited his needs and our budget. We were hesitant to go as low as £20-£30 for fear that it would just buckle under his use and there was no-way we were splashing out for an iPad for a 3 year old.
We then discovered the Nabi 2. It was a fully functioning Android tablet that came with a Mummy/Daddy mode, apps built in aimed at children and the option to add any app from the Google Store (a few months after we bought it though) all encased in a tough, droppable red case; and boy did he drop it. It gave our techno-child everything he wanted and needed from a tablet while putting our minds at rest that he wasn’t going to run up £100’s in downloads; even in-app purchases were disabled.
Alas, like all technology it began to dwindle. The charger started to stop charging and for our now almost 5 year old it was again too restrictive in what he could do. He has become interested in proper games, not just Cbeebies games or Angry Birds; Minecraft had gained his attention and this just wasn’t possible on his Nabi.
It had to be done, Christmas came along again and we decided to opt for an iPad Mini for him complete with a protective cover bought from eBay. Daddy set up the restrictions which included removing the iTunes store and option to install apps and make purchases. This has lead to a very happy child who can play Minecraft and other games that the Nabi just couldn’t handle. It also has given him the freedom to watch his favourite shows with Netflix, Amazon Prime and iPlayer all being available.
Anyway, the reason you have probably read my experience is because you are looking for a tablet for your child. Well here are my picks to suit a range of budgets.
The JYJ is at the lower end of the budget scale. It has a 4.3″ screen which is a little on the smaller side when it comes to tablet screens and it runs with a single core processor running the Jelly Bean version of Android so you can’t expect it to be too fast, if your child is impatient (like mine was) then apps and games may load a little too slow for them. It comes with 4GB of memory built in but it can be expanded up to 32GB with an additional card. The design of the tablet is cute and it is fine for doing very simple things on. This tablet will cost your around the £25 mark and if I’m honest I’d never go for a tablet that cost lower than this, I haven’t used it but from my experience with a higher end tablet I wouldn’t expect this to last too long pas the 1 years warranty; it would make a great testing tablet to see how your child enjoys it before investing in something a little better.
As I have already talked about this product in my post I will just post the specifications. This tablet has a 7″ screen and uses a nVidia Tegra 3 Quadcore processor with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 Operating system, it has 8GB of memory built in which can be expanded to 32GB but we never needed more than the 8. The back of the case also has a function so your child can customise it with letters you can buy in addition to the product but these are pretty expensive at £25 for 26 letters (one of each, so names like Hannah would require 2 packs). The Nabi 2 itself will cost you just under £100 and additional kids services such as the TV package that is comes with pre-installed are also an extra monthly cost. It is a great thing, especially for a first tablet but it didn’t make it to 2 years for us.
The Amazon Fire HD Kids
This new tablet is an exclusive for Amazon due out on the 19th June 2015. It comes with a perfectly sized 6″ screen which is great for everything your child will be doing on their new tablet. With 8 hours battery life there is more than enough juice to keep them entertained for long car journeys or those boring Sunday’s at the grandparent’s house; it also fully chargers within 6 hours so they are never left too long. The Quad-Core processor which consists of : 2 @ 1.5 Ghz + 2 @ 1.2 GHz , with 1 GB of RAM is safely surrounded by a case to take the shock out of drops and bumps. What I like about this tablet is that it firstly comes with a years worth of of Fire for Kids Unlimited which is a hand-selected subscription of thousands of kid-friendly books, videos, educational apps, and games. The secondly it has a TWO year warranty which covers it for all accidental incidents that could occur; just sent it to them and they replace it at no extra cost. Like the Nabi, it has a parent and child mode so when the little darlings are in bed you can use it to catch up on Facebook.
At £119 for 8GB or £139 for 16GB it is certainly a perfect balance between the lower end tablets and an iPad.
Once you reach The Amazon Fire HD Kids the tablets start to focus more on older children/adults than they do for children so buying anything more expensive would require you to firstly get something to protect it and secondly have a good look at the settings in order to restrict your child’s use; we ended up doing both of these with the iPad for our son. You can pick up an iPad case for less than £10 on Amazon, or a generic tablet case; as long as you get the right size.
What age should I get my child a tablet?
This doesn’t have a definite answer, some children will pick one up, and be off and away from a young age while others just don’t find them interesting. If you know your child will use one then I’d look into the Nabi 2 or Fire HD Kids as these are specifically designed with kids in mind, then once you know they will handle the tablet with care and are ready for a few more features you can look into upgrading them to something a little more advanced; such as the iPad. I’d be hesitant in going for the cheaper versions unless it is purely to see how your child takes to a tablet; although I have heard good things about some of them. When buying tablets for children make sure you do plenty of research, if you are unsure about the specifications and what you should be looking for then ask someone. There are plenty of forums and information online that can tell you whether the tablet you are considering is worth the investment; or even comment below and I’ll give you my thoughts.