According to a recent infographic from MDG advertising, more than half of 5 to 8 year olds have used a tablet, and 10% of kids have used one before their first birthday. While the majority of kids covet Apple and its products (i.e. the iPad, iPod and iPhone) as their most desired gifts every holiday season, a number of companies are designing tablets specifically made for kids that are rugged enough to deal with rougher playground or home usage and focus on educational apps and parental engagement. Here’s a look at several of the best new tablets for kids, just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new technology and gadgets for children of all ages:
LeapPad 2 – Utlizing a touchscreen and stylus, the LeapPad 2 features games and software that come as either cartridges that are bought at a retail store, or apps that can be downloaded wirelessly. LeapFrog places emphasis on education, so all apps and games have high educational value. LeapPad 2 has a front and back camera, which can be used for inserting faces and pics into funny movies with built-in apps, like Cartoon Director which lets kid make their own animations. There’s also a song-creation app and an art app that come already installed. The LeapPad 2 is recommended for kids between 3 and 9.
LeapsterGS – A learning game system for ages four and up, this award-winning toy gets some welcome upgrades in the form of motion controls, a built-in camera and the ability to record videos or edit pictures on the fly. It also adds a microphone and the ability to share memories you’ve captured and created online, and boasts a sizable software library of over 300 titles, which include virtual pets, educational gaming activities and a variety of high-tech entertainment options that take advantage of the system’s touchscreen. Featured options include eBooks, games, videos, music and educational amusements that teach math, spelling, science, geography and more.
Nabi 2 – The Nabi 2 blends a durable form with the functionality that kids and parents want. Featuring an iIntegrated educational tracker called Fooz Kids University, the device also lets parents create and manage a chore List and Treasure Box to virtual and real-life activities and help kids work to earn things they want. The Nabi 2 offers more than 10,000 kid-friendly music choices as well as a $2.99 a month streaming subscription to popular kids shows from Cookie Jar entertainment (like Busytown, Strawberry Shortcake, Sonic the Hedgehog, Inspector Gadget and more). Each app available for purchase and download is also “curated,” meaning it’s approved by a person. And as an added convenience, there are no wires or cords necessary for syncing – it’s all done wirelessly.
Meep – From Oregon Scientific, the Meep was designed with the concerns of parents in mind. The focus is on allowing kids to do what they want, but in a safe environment. Parental controls are accessible from any computer, where parents can monitor activity and set time limits. Also, the Meep allows parents to easily set a virtual allowance to allow kids to buy games and apps. Meep has perhaps the most rugged protective case of all the tablets available for kids. Recommended for ages 6 and up. $150.
Tabeo – From Toys R Us, the Tabeo makes “online safety a top priority”. The device comes with 50 pre-installed apps that include many of today’s most popular games, such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, Cut the Rope, Tike Golf, built-in educational apps and iStorybooks. There are also many parental control options that regulate Internet access and app access. With the backing of a Toys R Us, there’s access to a vast amount of content on Tabeo: At launch in 2012, there were already 7,000 apps to choose from in the Tabeo App store.
InnoTab 2 – From vTech, the InnoTab is focused on making education fun for kids from preschool to elementary school. The Innotab comes with a rotating camera and an eReader for interactive storybooks. Educational games and apps are available for download, or also can be played via cartridges. The Innotab provides all the basic functionality and fun of tablets, like motion control, and at a reasonable price is a good choice for a kid’s first dedicated tablet of their own.
iPad – Although we’ve looked at those designed for kids, it’s worth mentioning the unquestioned leader in tablets. However, one of the main reasons these other kid-focused devices exist is because the iPad is a bit more fragile and doesn’t provide nearly the level of parental controls or restrictions as the others. It is possible, though, that with some work, you can take steps to protect your iPad such as blocking in-App purchases, restricting access to content rated by age and even installing apps like Mobicip that block access to websites or chat programs.
Interested in a few more tablet options for kids? You may also want to check out: