May 27, 2022

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How Your Kid’s Tablet Become A Creative Education Tool

Most adults grew up back in the day with tangible toys and knick-knacks (like coloring and story books, sports equipment, board games, action figures and dolls and the like) that kept us entertained and that sparked our imaginations. For the average child growing up today, many of these items have been replaced by interactive digital content on various screens and smart devices.

In fact, more and more parents are now providing their toddlers with their own tablet to keep them occupied. There are even kids’ tablets that have been designed specifically for use by young ones, like the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro. Aside from the vast selection of digital content accessible from these tablets, you’ll find that there are plenty of add-on products that help spark a child’s imagination and creativity.

What A Tablet Can Offer To A Child

There is a tremendous amount of high-quality, non-violent and family-friendly content available for tablets in the form of videos, interactive games, eBooks, educational programs and creativity tools. Keep in mind, there is also plenty of content that simply is not suitable for young kids.

Instead of relying on a tablet to be a babysitter for your children and giving them unlimited access to whatever content they’re able to stumble upon, consider pre-loading it with curated content that’s appropriate.

According to Dr. Ran Anbar, MD, FAAP, director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Update Medical University, “Children under 12 can learn from video games and thus should be allowed to use games, such as Minecraft or Roblox. These games allow for social interactions with their peers, which should be monitored by a parent.”

Most tablets’ app stores house a vast selection of educational and edutainment content. This includes interactive eBooks, games, videos, music and kid-friendly mindfulness applications. There are even ways for young people to communicate safely with their friends and family members via video calling and text messaging.

If you look a bit harder, you’ll also discover interactive toys that work seamlessly with a tablet. These are designed to bridge the gap between purely digital forms of entertainment and real-world toys and creativity tools.


The Best Tablets For Kids (Ages 12 And Under)

Depending on your budget and objectives, when it comes to finding the ideal tablet for your child, you have three main options—an Amazon Fire tablet, an Apple iPad or an Android-based tablet (from a company like Samsung). Here’s a quick look at what each offers.

The Amazon Fire Kids Tablets Are Designed For Young People

The Amazon Fire Kids tablets are Android-based, but use a custom version of the operating system specifically designed to access Amazon’s vast content library. To keep things affordable for parents, Amazon has taken several of its low cost tablets and adapted them specifically for kids.

These mobile devices come pre-loaded with plenty of age-appropriate content. Choose between a seven, eight or 10-inch display starting at just $50.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro Offers A Decent Size Screen

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro tablet is very similar to the Fire HD 7 Kids Pro, but it offers a larger and higher resolution screen, more RAM, additional internal storage and a better battery life.

A one year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and the two year “worry-free guarantee” from Amazon is included. With an Amazon Kids+ subscription, your child gets unlimited access to more than 20,000 eBooks, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, songs and games. Once the free one year subscription expires, Amazon Kids+ costs just $2.99 per month.

For a parent looking to provide an older child with an even larger (10-inch), high-definition touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, the Fire HD 10 Kids is the ideal kid-friendly tablet. This tablet offers the same processor and internal storage as the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro, but comes bundled with 3GB of RAM to make room for more apps to run, and also has a sharper 5MP camera.


The Apple iPad Can Be Suitable For Young People

For parents that already rely on Apple products and have amassed a library of App Store, iTunes and Apple Music content that’s suitable for kids, providing a child with an iPad makes sense. Any iPad can be added to a Family Sharing account for Apple-provided content.

While the basic iPad model starts at $329, it does not include a case, stand or the Apple Care+ service (for technical support and repairs), so you’ll need to pay extra for these add-ons. All Apple iPads do include parental controls that allow adults to block certain types of content and limit screen time. These features, however, need to be turned on and managed manually.

The iPad Offers A 10.2 Inch Display And A $329 Starting Price

While extremely powerful, this is the base model of the iPad that Apple is promoting as an ideal tool for kids and students. The core hardware configuration comes with 64GB of internal storage and runs using Apple’s A13 Bionic processor. The tablet features a 10.2-inch multi-touch display (2160 x 1620 pixel resolution) and offers a 10-hour battery life.

Weighing in at 1.07 pounds, the iPad includes an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 12MP front-facing camera. It also works with the optional Apple Pencil 1 stylus (sold separately).

What’s nice about the iPad is that it offers access to everything in Apple’s content library. You’ll find educational applications, games, apps that inspire creativity, interactive eBooks, audiobooks and all sorts of age-appropriate music, TV shows and movies.

Keep in mind, while limits can be placed on the types of content a child can access, the Safari web browser (which comes bundled with the tablet) has no filters pre-activated. A child can easily access inappropriate content on the web or using YouTube. Thankfully, Apple includes parental controls that are easy to access.

The iPad Mini (with a starting price of $459 on Amazon) offers a slightly more expensive tablet option. It features a smaller (8.3-inch) display that may fit better in your child’s hands.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 Offers Full Android 12 Compatibility

This is the brand-new Android 12-compatible tablet from Samsung. It’s better suited to older kids who will benefit from its power and capabilities, but from the Google Play Store, you’ll find a vast assortment of educational and entertainment-oriented content that’s age-appropriate for your child.

What’s nice about this tablet is that it features a stunning 11-inch display, along with a powerful processor and plenty of RAM and internal storage (up to 1TB when used with an optional memory card). The tablet itself measures 9.99 x 6.51 x 0.25 inches and it weighs 1.10 pounds. Based on usage patterns, you can expect at least a 10-hour battery life between charges.

Sure, there are less expensive Android-based tablets on the market, but this one offers a nice selection of higher-end features. Since it’s a newer model, if you have an eligible tablet, smartphone or smartwatch to trade in, you can currently get up to $450 in credit towards the purchase of the Galaxy Tab S8. A $50 Google Play Credit and $50 Instant Samsung Credit is also included with each new tablet purchase.

Like the iPads, the Galaxy Tab S8’s operating system offers a nice collection of parental controls, but these must be manually activated and managed by an adult. You’ll also want to invest in an optional case and stand to protect the tablet.


Tablet Add-Ons That’ll Educate And Entertain Your Child

Check out this selection of educational and edutainment toys and tools that can be used in conjunction with any tablet. These products will provide your child with a more hands-on and tactile experience as they learn, play and interact with their mobile device.

“Parents should be aware of all content accessed by their children and should exercise their judgement with electronic content just like they need to monitor other exposure to other experiences in their children’s lives,” Dr. Anbar added. “Children should be taught to only use their tablet for recreation after completing their schoolwork or chores.”

The OSMO Little Genius Starter Kit Offers Multiple Learning Games

Editor’s Pick

The Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit is available for iPad, Android or Amazon Fire tablets, but you must take care to purchase the right set based on your tablet type. This set includes a collection of four unique games and activities designed to teach early math skills, phonics and creativity to kids between the ages of three and five. What’s unique about the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit is that it nicely incorporates real-world objects that interact with the content a child is seeing and hearing on their tablet.


It’s Never Too Early To Teach A Kid How To Code

Once upon a time, kids were encouraged to learn cursive handwriting. These days, the focus is more on helping a child become comfortable using technology, touchscreens and virtual keyboards. Meanwhile, in addition to basic math skills, more kids than ever are learning coding at a very early age. Coding helps to develop a child’s problem solving and logical thinking skills, while encouraging creativity.

The Osmo Coding Start Kit for iPad (a separate version is available for Android-based tablets and Amazon Fire Kids tablets) is designed for kids between the ages of five and 10. Using a combination of handheld pieces and blocks, along with interactive (on-screen) content, this kit teaches basic code and puzzle-solving in a fun and highly interactive way.


Kids Learn Letters, Numbers and Basic Spelling Using This Toy

Designed for kids between the ages of four and 10, the Plugo STEM Pack works with all iPads, Kindle Fire Kids tablets and most Android-based tablets. This particular kit is designed to teach kids about numbers and letters through a collection of 15 interactive games and physical pieces that will sharpen a child’s counting, arithmetic, linguistic, comprehension, problem-solving and fine-motor skills.

Everything needed to use this kit is included in the box. There are no additional in-app purchases or expansion packs required.


Teach Your Kid Basic Coding And Problem Solving With This Cute Robot

This educational toy uses a small programmable robot that can draw on paper to teach kids (over the age of seven) basic coding and problem solving skills. This robot requires access to a Wi-Fi network and the company’s website in order to download various activities and lessons which are then experienced by your child using an iPad or Android-based tablet that’s used program and control the robot.


Combine LEGO With A Tablet For The Ultimate Playful Creativity

Using the 847 LEGO pieces in this toolkit and a tablet, your child will be able to build, program and then remotely control any of five robot designs. This kit is ideal for boys and girls alike between the ages of seven and 12. The mobile app required to use the LEGO Boost Creativity Toolbox is compatible with iPads, Android-based tablets and Amazon Fire Kids tablets. What’s nice about this product is that it relies on LEGO building blocks that young people already know and love, but this kit adds an educational element to their play patterns.


Discover More Quality Content For Your Child’s Tablet

A vast selection of optional content is available no matter which tablet you provide to your child. You can load some of this content onto the tablet itself, while others can be streamed from the web. The content is free in some cases, but some needs to be purchased outright or you’ll need to pay a monthly or annual subscription to access it. For example, while the Amazon Kids+ service is a tremendous amount of content for one fix-rated monthly fee ($2.99 per month for all tablet types), other services and types of content are offered on an a la carte basis.

There are some kid-appropriate eBooks that display just text and stagnant illustrations. However, there’s also a vast selection of interactive eBooks that showcase text, animated graphics and that feature sound effects as well as a narrator who can read the book to your child. Start by seeking out interactive eBooks from authors you know or that feature characters your kids already love, like Dr. Seuss.

Meanwhile, kid-friendly games for tablets may not all be educational, but they’re designed to provide a non-violent gaming experience that won’t frustrate your child. Minecraft and Roblox are extremely popular games for kids, and you’ll often find curated collections that’ll help you discover more. As a parent, you may want to try some of these games and apps yourselves before allowing your child to access them.

Also, be on the lookout for creativity apps that encourage kids to write, draw, paint or create music using their tablet. For example, the Crayola Create and Play app uses virtual crayons and markers to allow kids to draw and color on their tablet’s screen.

As for music, it’s possible to download specific songs or albums to your child’s tablet which become accessible anytime. For a broader music selection, set up a subscription for them to use Spotify Kids or iHeartRadio Family. It’s also possible to adjust a family account for Apple Music or Amazon Prime Music, so your child will only be able to stream certain songs, playlists or albums that you pre-select or that contain no adult lyrics or themes.

“Children who are anxious or are on the autism spectrum may choose to use their tablet as a way of avoiding social interactions. This can lead to increased anxiety or social difficulties, as the children do not learn how to overcome their disorder through repeated practice with in-person interactions,” stated Dr. Anbar. “Avoid using media as the only way to calm children, because this can lead both children and their parents to be dependent on media.”


Additional Tablet Accessories That Are Kid-Friendly

Whichever tablet you give to your kids, you’ll want to keep it within a case that’ll protect the device from drops, scratches and spills. Depending on the types of apps you’ll be encouraging your kids to experience, providing them with a kid-friendly stylus might also be useful.

Meanwhile, to avoid everyone having to hear the audio generated from the tablet, consider investing in a pair of kid-friendly headphones. If the tablet has a 3.5mm headphone jack, any wired headphones will work great. However, you’ll need to go with wireless (Bluetooth) headphones if it has no 3.5mm audio jack.

Keep in mind, kids will tend to lose tiny earbuds (like AirPods) quickly and they may also present a choking hazard, so going with over-the-ear headphones is a smarter option. Here are some optional accessories you might want to invest in for your child’s tablet.

This Shockproof Handle + Stand Kids Case Serves Several Needs

While the Amazon Fire Kids tablets come with a durable case (in several different color and pattern options), the iPads to do not. This particular case will protect your child’s iPad from drops, scratches and spills while doubling as a tabletop stand.


Little Hands Can Write Or Draw With This Stylus

For smaller hands, these oversized crayon-shaped stylus pens will work with a wide range of optional iPad apps. This stylus does not offer all of the functionality of an Apple Pencil 2, but it will allow someone to write or draw on their tablet’s screen when using a compatible app.


Belkin’s SoundForm Mini Are Great Headphones For Kids

These headphones from Belkin offer a wireless (Bluetooth) connection to almost any tablet. The drawback to using wireless headphones is that they too need to be recharged after about 30 hours of use. What’s nice about these headphones is that they have a volume limiter built in, so your child can’t play audio that’s too loud (more than 85dB).


What To Consider When Giving Your Child A Tablet

Remember, you might want to think twice about simply using a tablet as a babysitter for your child. It might not be a great idea to leave them unsupervised and occupied for extended periods of time.

One way to prevent your child from becoming addicted to the technology and spending too much time using it is to set time limits and rules that are not negotiable. Use the built-in parental controls to help your child adhere to those limits.

“Use of a tablet and other screens should be stopped an hour before bedtime to let the mind calm down in preparation for falling asleep,” Dr. Anbar explained. “Do not allow children to use the tablet during the night, because this will disrupt their sleep and may permit their access to inappropriate material.”

He added, “For children between the ages of five and 12, screen time should be limited to less than two hours per day.”

Also, ensure that the various parental controls built into the device (and the services or apps the child will be using) are properly implemented. Inappropriate content in any form should never be accessible. Pay attention to what games and content your child is accessing, who they’re communicating with and what the tablet is being used for.

“Avoid applications with fast-paced or violent content, which often affect a child’s behaviors even when they do not use their tablets,” advises Dr. Anbar.

Many online services and apps have the ability to make in-app purchases. Be sure to turn off this functionality to prevent your child from using your account (and pre-saved credit card) to make unauthorized purchases.

Dr. Yuna Rapoport, MD is the founder and director of Manhattan Eye. If a child will be using a tablet (or looking at any screen for an extended period) to prevent eye fatigue, she recommends teaching young people to use the 20-20-20 rule. “Every 20 minutes, have your child look 20 feet away from their screen for 20 seconds. This allows the eyes to reset.”

With so much content available for your child to experience, they may want to forego playing outside, spending time in the real-world with friends or doing their homework, for example. As an adult, you’ll likely want to prevent this. It’s up to you to determine the experiences your child has using this technology, but we wholly encourage seeking a pediatrician’s advice when in doubt. Teaching them to be responsible and taking proper safety precautions will make all the difference.