It seems that everywhere you look these days, electronics companies are manufacturing tablets designed specifically for kids. With no shortage of choice on the market, parents are now faced with the dilemma of choosing the right tablet – one that will not only help educate their little monsters, but that will also withstand the ravages of misuse without kicking the bucket two weeks after un-boxing. Here are 6 of the most important features to look for in a kiddie tablet before you buy.
You don’t even have to be a parent to understand that technology and youth don’t mix. And forgetting for just a moment the enormous financial implications of having to buy your child a new tablet every time they break the last one, there are some tablets out there that can cause serious physical harm if your child is especially precocious or wackily experimental. Choose tablets that have rubberized exterior casings, and avoid those with fragile plastic casings. While most kiddie tablets are built with rounded edges to cut back on the risk of injury, make sure the tablet that you choose adheres to this design. Also look for tablets that have reinforced screens.
Many tablets can weather the occasional drop and keep on chugging on, but few fare well when they’re dunked underwater or even exposed to liquids for a brief period of time. Let’s face it, your kids are probably not the most dexterous individuals on the planet. But give them a break, they’re still developing those abilities. Meanwhile, if you want to set them on the road to tablet ownership (and reap the educational benefits that such devices can have on the young) before they’re able to keep from spilling their juice everywhere, you may want to keep “waterproof” at the top of your list of requirements.
This is where a lot of kiddie tablets run into trouble. There are a slew of tablets out there with screens only capable of reproducing tough to distinguish, bottom of the barrel monochromatic graphics. Stay away from these, and opt for tablets that are capable of producing higher quality graphics. Not that this will necessarily have any impact on your child’s ability to learn – certainly textbooks aren’t exactly the worst thing for an information-hungry mind to absorb, and they’re rarely anything special to look at – but it will at least meet the “shiny object” quotient that so many of today’s youth judge their belongings by.
If you wanted your kid to sit around and play Angry Birds all day, you could have just given them your old smartphone. The fact is, kiddie tablets aren’t just ruggedized game consoles, they can be used for other things. Like learning. The only issue here is that some are far better at it than others, in which case you’ll be forced to don your schoolteacher’s cap and determine which tablets come with the kind of software that’ll be most educational for your younglings. Since people’s ideas of education differ greatly, it’s probably best if you do your due diligence by researching what professionals are saying about the software suites in certain kiddie tablets. Obviously, it’s a good idea to ensure that any educational software covers the basics, like math and reading and science.
Parental Control Locks on Internet Access
These days, there are enough inclusions on kids tablets to make the lack of internet something they’ll likely never notice. But if you want your child to benefit from all of the good information that’s to be found on the big, bad internet, you can do so by purchasing a tablet that gives you the ability to lock down internet access, or program access only to child-friendly sites.
Long Battery Life
Let’s face it, a lot of kids simply don’t “get” the whole patience thing. And even fewer can appreciate that batteries die, sometimes all too quickly if you’re using a device 24/7. If you don’t want to find yourself stuck in the middle of a 10-hour road trip with a screeching child whose tablet just squeezed the last bit of juice from its battery pack, look for longevity when you shop around. Also consider buying a backup battery for emergencies, as well as a car charger.
Word of advice: when it comes to tablets, you usually get what you pay for. But it’s also smart to remember that kids are still kids and they’ll always outgrow their toys, sometimes far sooner than we’d like. Before sinking too much of your hard earned paycheck on a slab of technology that could be obsolete in a matter of months, bear in mind that there’s always some new technology waiting to peek its head around the corner. As a rule, never spend any more money than you’ll be willing to spend again next year. Because odds are, you will.