Best tablets for kids in 2021: Best deals on kids tablets in the UK
Technology has changed a lot since you were small. Your kids have probably mastered the features on your iPhone better than you have due to constantly asking to play with it. And when you do eventually get it back, it’s a sticky mess covered in slobber and other unexplainable slimes.
But in the age of touch screens and constant connectivity, there’s not really a way to say “no” without feeling like a parent from the dark ages.
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Enter tablets for kids: the happy medium between giving your kids the access to tech that they want, without turning them into a technology zombie. You know what we’re talking about — those kids who have their faces glued to a smartphone while they get pushed around in a stroller. It’s weird, right?
What do you need to know about screen time recommendations?
Screen learning and screen time restrictions are increasingly huge points of study. Parents’ questions often boil down to “how much is too much?” Though this is rarely met with a definitive answer, recent research can at least shine light on best practices.
In April 2019, the World Health Organization issued much-anticipated guidelines around screen time for preschool-aged kids: One hour is the recommended maximum for children ages 2 to 4. These suggestions are based off of the idea that healthy cognitive development of young kids is built through face-to-face interaction. This lines up with recent research done by Vanderbilt University’s Georgene Troseth, who says that toddlers probably won’t learn much from a screen, anyway.
It’s around their third year of life that children can make the connection that the thing on the screen represents a real person, and that that person is teaching them something. “By age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content,” explains Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer at LeapFrog enterprises, in this Inc.com article. “This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.”
Kids are actually interacting with content, making the learning experience richer and more memorable. Tablets just feel more like playing, and it’s not surprising that kids may be more willing to learn when it doesn’t feel forced. Besides, playing and imagination are the building blocks for creativity and empathy.
One project by the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre (a non-profit run by the same people behind Sesame Street) compared literary assessments of kindergarten through third grade students who had used tablets at school. The students who used tablets saw higher exam scores than those who didn’t use tablets, and they were able to recognise 20% more vocabulary words due to an improved ability to recognise sounds and represent sounds as letters.
A 2018 meta-analysis published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal combined numerous studies from the past few years, ultimately pinpointing a significant touchscreen learning effect. Learning on a touchscreen with physical pressing and swiping was particularly beneficial for STEM, as apps or games have the ability to create a memorable real-life experience (compared to simply reading about a science experiment).
What’s important to remember is that tablets are a great learning tool as long as they’re not a kid’s main source of learning. Kids will always need to be comfortable reading print books and doing maths by hand. Sure. But the opportunities for self-sufficient and interactive learning on a tablet can’t be understated — plus, being able to sit your kid down with Paw Patrol while you join a meeting on Zoom is a godsend.
How do you choose the right tablet for your kid?
Most tablets made specifically for kids will already be equipped with built-in parent accounts, timers, and pre-selected websites or apps that are strictly for kids. Easy enough.
General purpose tablets aren’t a bad choice at all — many sites name the iPad as one of the best tablets for kids even though it’s technically for everyone. These won’t have the same built-in parental controls as tablets specifically for kids, so you’ll need to get creative if you’d rather your kid not have unlimited access to the internet. Apple and Android have features that can filter or block content and prevent purchases, but the closest thing you’ll be able to get to play-by-play monitoring is by installing a legit parental control app for iPads or Android tablets.
If you’d prefer to just make the family tablet more kid-friendly rather than purchase a whole new one, Osmo is a super neat iPad and Fire Tablet add-on. The Osmo Genius Kit snaps onto your tablet for on-screen exercises and games that coincide with physical pieces. Moving a letter, block, or game piece in real life moves it on screen, making for a cool mashup of your typical tablet game, hand-eye coordination, and visual problem solving. Subjects include numbers, words, tangram, Newton, and art, plus extra packs for more advanced stuff like STEM and family game night.
The most important things to keep in mind when shopping for a tablet for kids are:
Screen resolution — Whether less than HD, HD, FHD (4K is probably going overboard) will suffice depends on the amount of movie watching and gaming they’ll be doing
Storage — They’ll probably have more apps than you do, and may need space for downloads like offline Disney+ movies, music, or some books for school
Intensity of parental controls — For obvious reasons
Rugged-ness — Because kids are basically adorable destruction machines and you’ll probably feel better with a case
Consider these points before making any sort of purchase decision and you should be just fine.
What is the best tablet for kids?
To help you make the best decision for you, your kid, and your life, we have shortlisted a selection of standout tablets for kids. There is something for everyone and every budget in this list, and all you need to do is pick a favourite. You have the choice of impressive tablets from the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Samsung.
These are the best tablets for kids in 2021.