We all know toddlers shouldn’t have a lot of screen time. But I’m way beyond trying to stop my toddler from using a tablet altogether. And, in fact, he’s using my iPad to play some genuinely educational games that are helping him with things like numbers and letters. These games reinforce the non digital ways in which we teach our son these things (puzzles, songs and talking).
And yes, he does watch Youtube videos too. But he gets plenty of outdoor time, reading time, sitting playing games with Mummy and Daddy time etc, so I have no problem with it. His development is absolutely spot on.
My view is that we cannot expect our toddlers not to be curious about tablets and mobile phones when we carry one around in our pockets all the time. I don’t see my job as being to protect my son from screens. I see my job as being to ensure anything he has is in moderation.
But anyway. I digress.
Our son uses an old device of mine – an iPad 2 from years ago which we have put into a child friendly case. At some stage, that iPad is going to give up the ghost. Let’s be honest, Apple devices don’t have the longest shelf lives. And that one is already around 5 years old.
On that basis, I’ve been looking into the best tablets for toddlers on sale in the UK in 2017. Here’s what I’ve shortlisted.
Kindle Fire Kids Edition (7 Inch)
There are a few things to love about this tablet specifically for kids and toddlers.
- The price! At £99.99 for the 16gb edition, this is hundreds of pounds cheaper than even the cheapest iPad on the market!
- Comes with a child proof case (choice of 3 colours – blue, pink and yellow)
- Amazing parental controls. You can do things like set educational tasks or goals and make them compulsory before your child can, for example, watch Youtube. Want them to complete a couple of numbers or reading tasks before switching to Youtube? The Kindle Fire will manage that for you
- The “2 Year Worry Free Guarantee” is an absolute gift for parents with toddlers who, like ours, haven’t quite grasped being gentle yet! This guarantee means that if you child breaks the tablet within 2 years, Amazon will replace it without any hassle
It’s worth pointing out that the Kindle Fire Kids Edition (at the time of writing) also comes with a year’s worth of Fire for Kids Unlimited, which is a subscription service offering loads of educational content for young children.
Cheap, durable and appealing for children.
The Leapfrog EPIC Tablet
This is a tablet specifically made for children and toddlers from 3 years and up. It’s designed specifically for children. In other words, this isn’t a “normal,” tablet that has been reconfigured for children. It’s only for little ones.
Some of the features to love:
- It is an Android based system, so if you’re already familiar with Android devices, this should be relatively straightforward for you to get to grips with to show your little one
- Being Android based, you can also install Android apps and games on it
- Comprehensive parental controls
- Leapfrog’s ‘Just for Me Learning,’ tailors the learning activities to your child
- Leapfrog has a reputation for educational learning toys for toddlers and children
Although this product does specify a recommended age range of 3 to 9 years, having seen my son try a friend’s, I’d use this as a guide. Our son is 2 and was able to use it well. By the same token, children of 8 or 9 might well be bored of this. So do your research before making the purchase.
VTech InnoTab Max 7
Another tablet designed specifically for young children, the VTech Innotab Max 7 is aimed at youngsters from 3 to 6 years of age. It’s another product from a company with a history of educational toys and products for children so this is another tablet built specifically for children, rather than a run of the mill tablet with “child mode.”
A few features to note:
- Expansive parental controls to limit web browsing for children
- You can download material from VTech Learning Lodge
- Very durable design
- This tablet has a 2mp camera on it
iPad Mini 3
The iPad Mini 3 is, of course, not the newest of the reduced size iPads. In fact, it’s one model out of date but for that reason is available from £299.
Make no mistake – an iPad of any sort is an expensive option for a children’s tablet. If you’ll be giving it to particularly young children or toddlers, you will want a toddler proof durable case for the device.
But while iPads are quite pricey tablets, Apple products are very user friendly and the selection of apps on Apple’s App Store is huge. iPads are also arguably less susceptible to malicious software as Apple vets all apps uploaded to its store.
Going with a tablet not specifically designed for a toddler means you’ll need to spend a bit more time tailoring for toddlers. But by the same token, your child is less likely to grow out of the device itself, even if they do change their tastes and preferences for applications.
Apple’s family sharing also gives you an element of control over what your children download and install on the device.
These are the 4 on my shortlist for a tablet for my toddler. But if you have anymore ideas for tablets that should feature here, give me a shout! I’ll check them out and consider them for addition to this list.