If your child is like mine, they are constantly taking your personal tablet for their own use. Keira hasn’t even turned 3 yet and she is already able to fully operate any piece of technology with touchscreen capability that she gets her little hands on. While there are tablets for kids she is far too used to adult tablets and in particular the ability to video call her “gamma and gampa” at will.
Tablets are wonderful tools to help children learn and play but choosing just the right kid-friendly tablet can be daunting to say the least if you do not know what to look for since there are so many options out there.
So how do you choose the best tablet for your child? Here’s what to look for.
Know Your Child’s Needs
Assuming you don’t want your investment to turn into a paperweight, you will want to first determine a few different needs.
Age of Child – If your child is younger you will want a tablet that will hold up to rougher usage. If it is to become a family tablet then you it should be versatile enough for a wider age range.
Intended Purpose – Why are you buying your child a tablet and what will they use it for? Will it be for learning purposes only or entertainment as well. Is it meant for car drives only or everyday use? Are there particular apps you know your child will require?
Budget – Most parents probably aren’t going to be willing to hand over a huge sum of money on a kids tablet. The good news is that as technology changes and the market grows prices on technology tends to lower. Just like everything else in the tech industry as the market for tablets boomed more brands got in on the action and prices vary all over the spectrum. Even better news is that you can definitely stick to your holiday budget and still get a powerful tablet that will keep your family happy for awhile to come.
Features to Look For
Children’s tablets in general should be durable, easy to use and either include parental controls or have the ability to add parental controls.
Size and Weight – When it comes to younger children, you will want a tablet with a smaller screen-size with a heavier weight. Older kids though will want a larger screen and more light weight. This is where things get fun when searching for a family tablet.
The Specs – What’s inside? Specs may be confusing to most people and you will find different opinions on the subject. Personally I prefer the Intel Atom processor paired with at least 1 GB of Ram and plenty of storage capacity. The minimum I would look for is 32Gs of space with room to expand via memory card if you intend to load up the tablet with movies and music for your child.
Battery Life -If the tablet will be used for extended time, especially during travel, battery life will be an important factor. In general look for a tablet with the capacity for at least 8 hours of continuous use.
The Operating System – You will want to consider the apps your child may want to use. Most games and apps are available across the different operating systems, however many are not. Be sure to pick the operating system that will allow them to access the apps you are most interested in.
Parental Controls – Parental controls vary from web filters to the ability to create a child profile on the tablet right down to being able to completely control your child’s experience with the tablet right down to what time of day your child can play. Some parental controls are added via the manufacturer but others are installed through an app.
Ease of Use – Children pick things up quickly but it is still important to ensure that the tablet is intuitive, especially for non-readers.
My Recommendation for Holiday Giving 2014
So what would I choose? Based on the above recommendations my pick for Holiday Gift Giving is the HP Stream 7 tablet. The HP Stream 7 runs on Windows 8.1 with a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Processor and 1 GB of ram with a seven-inch multi-touch IPS wide-viewing-angle display. Basically it is super fast and responsive as well as being the perfect size for both big and little hands. The weight is pretty spot on for a child too, it isn’t super light weight but it also isn’t a brick.
Since the HP Stream 7 runs Windows 8.1 it is also very much like a mini computer which makes it a very productive tablet for older children. It also comes with a 1 year subscription to Microsoft Office 360 for one tablet and one personal computer.
The resolution is clear and offers rich colours, which is important since my daughter loves to stream videos and watch movies off the tablet. Speaking of movies, it also offers 32 GB of storage and that is expandable a further 32 GB via memory card (not included) as well as up to 8 hours of continuous battery life.
Skype, which is pre-installed has never been better either. The 0.3MP front-facing camera works perfectly for calls to Gamma and Gampa. The rear facing camera is also only 2MP so definitely not built for photographers but pretty perfect for children to play with.
Last and not least are the parental controls. What I love about this tablet being Windows based is the option to create multiple profiles, including specifically a child’s profile which allows parents to not only monitor activities under that profile but to also set limits.
The best part though is that the HP Stream 7 retails for only $119.99. I mean seriously? That is an amazing deal and should fit into most budgets with ease.
Disclosure: I received the HP Stream 7 tablet from Intel in order to facilitate this post. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!