The best tablets for kids in 2021 come in all kinds of flavours and from all kinds of firms: Apple and Amazon, of course, but also some brands you might not have encountered before.
There are several issues to consider. The first and most obvious thing is protection: little hands can be accident-prone, and we can't be the only parents to be on first-name terms with the local tablet screen repairer. Many of the best kids' tablets include protective cases; if the one you choose doesn't, we'd strongly recommend getting one.
Screen size is a factor too. Too small and it might be awkward to watch some content; too big and the tablet can be too heavy for little arms. Some of the tablets here come with keyboards; others can connect to wireless ones over Bluetooth.
One of the key selling points of many kids' tablets is parental control and filtering software, which you can use to prevent your little ones from accessing inappropriate content. Such software does work very well, but it's important to note that it can't always filter everything. We've found that even in Apple's otherwise well-policed App Store, free ads often come with advertising that's completely unsuitable for the age range the app is aimed at. If that's a concern for you, most tablets enable you to prevent the kids from installing any apps or games without your permission.
In this guide we'll introduce you to the key kids tablets for 2021 and explain their key features, specifications and anything that makes them particularly compelling. And of course, we'll help you find the very best prices for them too. Kids' tablets are often much cheaper than you might expect, so you don't necessarily need to spend a fortune on the best tablets.
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The best tablets for kids in 2021
This latest version of the Kids Edition of the Amazon Fire HD 8 doesn't offer much of an improvement over its predecessor – a bit more memory, a processor that's a bit faster, slightly longer battery life – but there wasn't much wrong with its predecessor at all. This is our pick for the best kids tablet on the market right now.
What really makes this kids tablet appealing is what Amazon offers with it: a year's free subscription to the Fire for Kids Unlimited service, offering more than 5,000 apps and games for your youngsters, plus a two-year replacement programme – if this tablet gets broken in that time, Amazon will replace it for free.
On top of all that, it's very affordable, and comes with an inspired chunky rubber case that doubles up as a kickstand. It's got everything you want in a tablet for children, even if other slates have better screens and faster specs.
The entry level iPad is a great tablet full stop, but it's also a great tablet for kids – albeit a bit more expensive than many of the other options we've listed here. It's also less robust and more delicate than the dedicated tablets for children made by Apple.
Why should you consider it as a tablet for your kids? Well, you get Apple's excellent iPadOS software, plus access to the huge Apple App Store. If you connect the iPad up to your Apple account, you can easily put parental controls and screen time limits in place, so your children won't exactly be able to do whatever they please.
This is perhaps a better option for older kids, and it will grow up as they do – remember you've got plenty of accessories to pick from here as well, from the Apple Pencil stylus to a variety of clip-on keyboard covers.
With a 7-inch screen, chunky rubberised casing, and custom Android tweaks, the Kurio Tab Connect is similar in a lot of ways to the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets – though if you shop around you might be able to get the Kurio device even cheaper.
Kurio installs its own suite of parental controls on the tablet, making it easy to limit your children to the apps and the sites you want them to be using. Underneath though this is just Android, which means a whole host of educational apps, games and tools are available, all through an intuitive, kid-friendly interface.
You don't have to go hunting for apps as soon as you turn on the device though, as Kurio pre-installs a decent selection in advance. The tablet also supports multiple profiles, so if you have more than one kid using the Tab Connect, they can keep their stuff separate (handy for easing sibling tensions).
Now that Apple has seemingly remembered about the iPad Mini again, it's actually a decent device for those with small hands who want a bit of premium hardware to play around with. The A12 Bionic chip inside this 7.9-inch tablet is going to cope with everything your kids can throw at it and then some.
This being Apple, it's expensive of course – this is going to cost you significantly more than an Amazon tablet, but then you might consider the extra software slickness and choice of apps worth the outlay. There's no doubting the quality of the apps available on Apple devices, or the slickness of iPadOS.
It really depends how old your kids are and exactly what they want to do with their tablet, but if they're more about video watching and app usage and less about scribbling with crayon all over their devices, the new iPad Mini is worth a look. They can get more creative now too with added Apple Pencil support.
Amazon knows how to put together a kids' tablet (check out the 8-inch and 10-inch models as well) – the chunky build, the bright colours, the easy and accessible software... everything you could want as a parent is right here.
The specs aren't fantastic, but then they don't need to be. You get a two-year warranty, a year of the Fire for Kids Unlimited service (giving you access to a wealth of apps, books, games and more), and easy-to-use parental controls. If you don't love it, you can return it inside 30 days for a full refund from Apple.
Amazon is promising seven hours of battery life, which should be enough for the longest car journeys, and offline support is good too for when your kids are away from Wi-Fi. This is hands down one of the best tablets for kids on the market right now.
If you feel like your kids need less hand-holding and would benefit from a tablet that's actually an adult's tablet as well, then give the Galaxy Tab A8 from Samsung a look – just from the design you can see that this is a much more serious device.
You'll probably want to get some form of parental control software installed, but Android has plenty of options in that regard – and of course you and your kids have access to thousands of apps, games and educational tools through the Google Play Store. All the well-known apps are available here.
The spec and screen resolution isn't the best on the market but then it doesn't have to be, and you can pick up the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 for not much more than one of the Amazon options. Definitely one of the best tablets for kids at the moment.
Another tablet that's perhaps more suited to older kids who won't be as likely to spill milk all over their personal devices, the Lenovo Tab E10 offers a large 10.1-inch screen – more room for watching movies, playing games, and doing everything else that kids do when presented with a tablet.
The screen isn't the only bit of the design that impresses, because it's thin, and light, and it has some fairly decent speakers as well. The base model comes with 16GB of internal storage space on board, which should be enough for most kids. There are some parental controls built in, with lots of good alternatives on the Google Play Store too.
Given Lenovo's track record in laptops, phones, tablets and most other types of consumer electronics, you can be confident that you're getting a quality bit of kit here – and as your child grows up, this tablet will continue to be useful.
If Amazon's smaller children's tablets weren't so good and such good value then the 10.1-inch screen Fire HD 10 Kids Edition would get much more attention than it does.
Be under no illusion, this is a great tablet full stop, with a vibrant screen, solid block of storage (32GB), and a surprisingly punchy speaker system, too.
What separates it from just a standard 10-inch tablet, though, is its access to Amazon's best-in-class parental controls and Amazon Fire for Kids Unlimited, the latter coming free out of the box for an entire year.
For playing games, streaming videos, listening to audio books, reading digital comics and browsing the web (with parental locks on, of course) its pretty much perfect, and its big bumper case means that, as with Amazon's smaller tablets, it is fantastically resistant to damage.
Speaking of damage, it also comes with Amazon's no quibbles two-year guarantee as well, meaning that if it damaged in that time, Amazon will replace it no questions asked.
Overall, a great package, and if you can stretch to its high (for a kid's tablet) price point then it will definitely deliver the experience they need.
The craze for 2-in-1 hybrid tablets made its way to the toy aisles too: this tablet from Kurio can be used as a small laptop and then detached from its keyboard and cover to work in tablet mode.
This is actually the second iteration of the Smart tablet: the first ran Windows and wasn’t very good. This is much better and runs Android with a Kurio interface on top.
The Smart 2 in 1 has a decently big 10” IPS touch screen and uses the same filtering system and parental controls as other Kurio devices to ensure your kids don’t access anything inappropriate.
Unlike some child-focused devices the Kurio doesn’t limit you to its own App Store: it comes with the Google Play store so you can enjoy the same apps as any other Android device, subject to parental controls. That means it's likely to be a more cost-effective long-term option than some other kid-friendly devices. Just beware of ad-heavy apps: not all the advertising in child-friendly apps is age appropriate.
Don’t expect blistering performance or all-day battery life, but as a tablet/keyboard combination for younger children it does the job.
How to choose the best kids' tablet for your child
When it comes to buying the best tablet for kids, what you're looking for is going to be different compared to when you're buying your own tablet. Raw power matters less than good parental controls and long battery life, and exterior design doesn’t matter so much when it's going to spend all its time covered in crumbs.
For younger children we think parental control options are paramount: it's all too easy for a child to stumble upon content that's utterly inappropriate on popular sites such as YouTube.
If you’re considering an Apple, Android or Amazon tablet then the choice of apps isn't an issue, but with proprietary tablets the selection is much more limited and sometimes much more expensive.
We'd also recommend thinking about what your child is likely to want in a year from now, not just today: a child that's quite happy with Peppa Pig clips now may well be a proficient platform gamer just months later.
With that in mind, you might want to look for a tablet that can grow with your child so it doesn't end up gathering dust. Without any further ado, let's find the best tablets for children of all ages.