Getting your child (aged 2 and up) a tablet is a great idea. Let me explain.
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In 2013, I purchased my first tablet (Amazon Kindle Fire HD7 2013 version) for my wife.
She didn’t use it as much as we expected, but my then-1.5-year-old son was very interested, and eventually took it over. He has been using it even since as his creative outlet as well as for entertainment.
That tablet finally died this year after years of rough and dirty use in a sub-par case, so I bought two more cheap ones, put them in silicone cases, and handed them to my 2 and 5-year-olds. That last sentence may scare some parents, so allow me to elaborate on why this is a good idea.
Why You Should Get Your Kids a Tablet In The First Place
You may hesitate to get your kids a tablet for any number of reasons. I understand and sympathize, but speaking from experience, giving your kids the opportunity to be creative and learn on their own device has been extremely rewarding for the whole family.
When I was growing up in the 90s and 2000s, I had access to the internet. It was my most valuable tool for learning and entertainment. Now, our kids can have access to so much more, and it’s more useful and important than ever that they take advantage of it. Of course, they need us to give them access, and an inexpensive tablet is a great way to do this.
Think of this: Photography and video projects, music, games, and how about getting a head-start on learning to read?
It’s a toy. You buy your kids toys, right? Well this is that, and so much more.
An Outlet for Creativity
The amount of things my kids are able to do with access to their own tablet is amazing. Friends and relatives are equal-parts amused and amazed on a regular basis by the things my 5-year-old cooks up on Snapchat or any other of his many, many video and photo editing apps.
Your kid might not be into the same stuff my kid is into, but I guarantee to you that your child will be able to find what they need to fuel their particular creative interests. Every kid likes to draw, for instance, and with a tablet they have unlimited canvas with the added plus of you being able to save all of their work, forever.
My child got a major head-start on learning to read because of what he had to learn in order to use his tablet without constant assistance. The speed at which children are able to adapt and learn is amazing to see.
Technological fluency is incredibly useful, and the younger your kids start using current technology regularly, the easier it will be for them to have a good foundation of understanding of how it all works and what they can get out of it.
We truly cannot understand what it’s like to be growing up in a time different from our own childhood. It’s important that we be flexible enough to provide our children with the opportunity to take advantage of the time we currently live in.
Memories for You and Your Child
Selfies! My first child took tons of selfies and videos of himself from age 2 and onward.
it’s more than great to be able to look back at self-shot videos of your two-year-old, and you’ll have those forever now. No need to rely on formal photography alone anymore. Give your kids unfettered access to a camera and they will more than likely take many pictures.
It’s easy to save and keep track of those photos, too, even if they originate on your child’s device.
Amazon will back those photos up for you if you have an Amazon tablet, and nicely reminds you of photos and videos that were taken on their anniversary with the “On This Day” feature. You can get a surprise cute selfie of your 2-year-old from 3 years ago any day of the week. You can also use Google Photos to back all your photos and videos up automatically across all your devices, so your kids’ selfies can go straight to your account.
Google Photos has even (automatically) taken videos of my child and combined them into a great surprise compilation of him over the years. Really really cool.
Kids of all ages love games like Minecraft, apps like Snapchat and keeping in touch with friends and family in any way they are capable. My 5-year-old loves sending and receiving photos, videos and instant messages from us and his aunts and uncles.
In addition to this, kids love watching videos on YouTube, shows and movies on Netflix and music on whatever your favored music streaming service is (mine is Amazon Music due to its’ massive library and family plan).
Giving a kid his or her own tablet keeps them off your devices and allows them to do their thing, and don’t be afraid, you can control what they watch, and when.
Not a Babysitter
The picture I’m painting is not one of an isolated child sitting silently consuming content without parental interaction, bonding, and sharing. That’s obviously a bad idea.
You should of course be aware of when your child is using their tablet or other device and what they are doing on it, as well as doing things with them, giving them feedback on their creations, and teaching them how to do new things or do things better.
Schools (and even libraries) are now sending children home with tablets for educational purposes. Recommended “screen time” is changing with the times and will likely continue to change and become more nuanced as “screens” become even more ingrained in our daily lives than they already are.
Any tablet you buy now will come with parental controls of some kind. Either natively or with an app, you can set a passcode, timed lock/unlock, turn off the ability to access the app stores, buy things, etc.
Setting up parental controls on a device that is borrowed (from you) by the child is problematic at best, so giving the child their own devices is really the only way to go unless you want to spend a lot of time without your device as well as typing in passwords and/or worrying about you child deleting all your emails or watching House of Cards by accident.
Okay, so what tablet should you get for your kids?
Any brand-name tablet will do the job. Of course if you want to spring for an Apple iPad Pro or a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, please do so. Faster is always better if you can afford it. I would caution that despite the price, don’t get a larger tablet than your child can comfortably carry around.
My Pick for a Child’s Tablet
What I got for my kids: The Fire 7 Tablet
All-New Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7″ Display, 8 GB, Black – with Special Offers
With Prime Day right around the corner when our old tablet broke, I took advantage of the big discounts on the already-inexpensive tablets. If Prime Day (every year in July) is coming up soon when you read this, Amazon will definitely have steep discounts on whatever the latest versions of the Fire tablet are. If not, just buy them now. They’re worth it at full (still cheap) price.
Unlike when I bought my first tablet in 2013, it’s now very easy to install and use the Google Play Store on Amazon tablets, so dry your tears (or the tears of your child), as the woes of not being able to use popular apps is now no more.
The tablets have both front and back-facing cameras, and I’ll be honest with you: They’re not great. My kids apparently don’t care about that, so it’s actually fine.
Amazon includes a host of parental controls with your Fire tablet. You can set a passcode, timed lock/unlock, turn off the ability to access the Amazon Appstore and buy things, etc.
Get One of These Cheap Silicone Cases. They’re Good
Bear Motion Silicone Case for All-New Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa – Anti Slip Shockproof Light Weight Kids Friendly Protective Case for Amazon Kindle Fire 7 (ONLY for 7th Generation 2017 Model)
This case is nice, and cheap too. I love silicone as a material for cases, and this case has survived many drops and use by a 2 and 5-year-old, so I know it does the job.
A Bigger Tablet For Bigger Kids
All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB, Black – with Special Offers
This tablet is 1 inch bigger, and in a case may be too big for a really little kid. It’s no faster inside than the 7″ version I got for my kids, but the screen is better (though a bit dimmer). My kids don’t care about relative screen quality and seem to prefer the smaller size, but if your kid is a little older this would probably be the better choice.
I have this tablet for myself for simple stuff like web browsing and instant messaging and I recommend it for non-strenuous applications like that. It also works well for Netflix or other video streaming applications.
Here’s the Case You Should Get if you Buy the Fire 8 Tablet
Poetic TurtleSkin All-New Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 Rugged Case with Free Stand Heavy Duty Silicone and Sound-Amplification feature Cover for Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (7th Generation,2017 Release)
I own and love this case. Chunky silicone with an included (and very useful) separate kickstand. It feels really solid and is very comfortable to hold.
Amazon Has Tablets and Cases Just For Kids, Too
All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, 7″ Display, 16 GB, Yellow Kid-Proof Case
All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, 8″ HD Display, 32 GB, Yellow Kid-Proof Case
You can get a “Kids Edition” of the Fire HD 7 and HD 8 with a modified OS and a special streaming video membership package.
I haven’t found this necessary. The tablets have held up really well in normal cases, and I have no need tor specially curated content for my kids, by your mileage may vary. There is an extra cost involved, but I would be remiss in not including them in this list.