You may have seen a preschooler quietly playing a game on a tablet and thought, “Wow, my kids are never that quiet. Where can I get one of those?” Or maybe you’ve heard about the enormous learning potential that comes with tablet use by kids and want your kids to have some of those experiences. While it’s true that tablets can provide entertainment and learning opportunities for kids, don’t hand over your iPad or run out and buy the latest kids’ tablet just yet. Not all tablets are created equal and it’s important to make sure you choose one that fits your child – and your budget.

Choosing a Tablet
Tablets come in many shapes and sizes.  It’s up to you to decide which form works best for your child. When searching for a tablet for your child, ask yourself the following questions:

–          How much am I willing to spend?
–          What types of games do I want my child to play?
–          Do I prefer pre-loaded content or downloading apps myself?
–          How durable does it need to be?
–          What safety and privacy concerns do I have?
–          Do I want to limit how often my child can use the tablet?
–          Should my child be able to access the internet?
–          Will I be using the tablet too?

With the answers to those questions in mind, it will be much easier to narrow down the selection of tablets to one that will fit you and your child’s needs.

Need a place to start looking?

These four tablets are some of the best options for kids and cover a wide variety of wants and needs.

iPad Mini

 iPad Mini

While the Apple iPad mini wasn’t designed with kids in mind, the wealth of child-friendly apps makes it a top tablet choice for kids. Rather than going for a full-sized iPad, however, parents should opt for the smaller, lighter – and less expensive – iPad Mini, which works better for little kid hands. Since the iPad is not known for its durability, parents may also want to invest in a heavy-duty case to prevent cracked screens and damaged hardware. While the iPad Mini won’t come pre-loaded with content like a traditional kids’ tablet, parents have access to iTunes App Store, which is full of high-quality, free educational and entertaining apps for kids including these Top 10 Math Apps for Kids.

Nabi

nabi 2

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV with a kids’ show playing, chances are you have “Good Morning, Red Bird” stuck in your head. While Nabi may be good at writing annoying jingles, it’s also good at creating quality tablets for kids. The Nabi 2 is one of the faster tablets designed for kids and runs on the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Its “drop-safe” bumper makes it a good tablet for kids who play rough or who tend to drop expensive electronics. It also comes pre-loaded with educational and entertaining games for kids. Special Disney and Nickelodeon versions of the Nabi 2 also come with content featuring kids’ favorite characters. Additional content can be found in parent-approved app store and through the option to purchase over 9,000 kid-friendly songs and albums.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids

samsung galaxy

Samsung recently redesigned its popular Galaxy Tab with kids in mind. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids comes in bright, kid-friendly colors and features a durable case to protect it from falls. Specially designed icons make the tablet easier for kids to control than a traditional Samsung Galaxy Tab. Parents can control how often kids use their tablets and the apps they access. For around $20 more, parents can purchase the tablet with a special carrying case that can also be used as a stand and stylus designed especially for kids.

LeapPad Ultra

leappad ultra

LeapFrog is one of the top names in educational electronics for kids, so it’s no surprise that the LeapPad Ultra is one of the best kids tablets. The tablet itself was designed to be ultra-durable and features a screen specially designed to respond to a child’s touch. Kids can browse the internet within a teacher and parent-approved collection websites, take pictures with the built-in camera or play one of over 800 apps available in LeapFrog’s learning library.