You’re never too young to learn how not to get addicted to electronic devices—especially ones that can connect to the Internet—but tablets have practical value for the underage. Sure, they can keep small children entertained for hours with games and cartoons, but there are also plenty of educational apps that can be used to prepare them for school and complement what older kids are learning in the classroom. Naturally, you’ll want one with good parental controls, and if you’re torn between a tablet with a 7″-to-8″ screen and one with a 10″ screen, remember that the smaller size will fit into little hands more easily. Once you’ve settled on a model, think about a child-proof protective case for it, just in case of accidents—and you know there’ll be accidents.
Once you’ve gotten the basic considerations out of the way, think about screen resolution, especially if your child will be watching movies and playing games on the tablet. You’ll want a battery that can keep going during long road trips, since recharging might not be possible. Storage is important, since they’ll need space for all the apps they’ll be using, and it has to be durable because kids aren’t known for having a light touch.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you limit the screen time of children under 18 months to video calls only. For kids between 2 and 5, up to one hour per day is suggested, while children 6 and older can spend more time using their tablet, as long as they’re closely monitored. Tablet use around bedtime and during meals is discouraged. We don’t want to teach kids bad habits that last a lifetime.
The age of your child should determine what tablet you choose for them. LeapFrog and Amazon make tablets with drop-proof bumpers and modified operating systems that are tailored to younger children. Because older kids will be familiar with their parents’ adult tablets, they will probably want one that looks more grown-up and can access social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Tik Tok.