Tablets are poised to grow more popular in the years to come, and many children are anxious to get their very own tablet. But many parents wonder if their kids are ready for a tablet and if such devices would make good gifts for their youngsters this holiday season.
According to a 2012 report from Pew Research, 22 percent of American adults now own some type of tablet, while In-Stat research estimates 65 percent of Americans, or more than 200 million people, will have a smartphone and/or tablet by 2015. According to a Fall 2012 report by the Media Technology Monitor, an estimated 26 percent of the Canadian population has a tablet, more than twice the amount of tablet owners just a year earlier.
As tablets become the device of choice, many different manufacturers have entered the tablet market, and children have begun to ask for tablets for holiday gifts, leaving parents wondering if their children are responsible enough to own a tablet that may cost several hundreds of dollars.
Price-wary parents should realize that tablet prices vary greatly depending on the device. But a growing number of child-friendly tablets have entered the market, and such devices are designed to be more durable for children who have a tendency to drop and destroy things. Those on the fence about whether or not to purchase a tablet for a child can consider these options.
* The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is a tablet that comes with a selection of educational functions, games and e-books. The device allows parents to decide which apps can be accessed on the device and restrict use to certain periods of time. The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids boasts a seven-inch screen and will run Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean. The front and rear facing cameras are considerably lower in quality than Samsung's previous products, down to 3-megapixels and 1.3-megapixels, respectively.
* The VTech InnoTab tailors apps to children in a compact device. The screen is just five inches in size, and the tablet comes packed with interactive e-books, learning games and other creative tools. It also has a modest price tag for a child's first foray into the world of tablets.
* The LeapFrog Leappad Ultra is a kid's learning tablet designed for children between the ages of four and nine. It comes with a seven-inch screen, Wi-Fi with kid-safe Web access and the ability to connect to a library of more than 800 educator-approved apps, books and more.
* The nabi is an Android tablet that is geared entirely toward kids. The nabi comes in several different incarnations (nabi Jr., nabi 2 and nabi XD) depending on the age of the child and the desired features. In July of 2013, Fushu, Inc., creator of the nabi tablet, was received the "Best Tablet 2013: For Kids" award from Laptop magazine for its nabi 2 device.
* The Amazon Kindle Fire is quickly becoming a go-to option for parents interested in acclimating their children to a tablet. Less than half of the price of its biggest competitor, the Kindle Fire still allows kids to access a bevy of features. Music, movies and Amazon's ever-growing trove of e-books are just some of the features that make the Kindle Fire a popular choice.
* Though small, the iPad mini has all of the features of a larger iPad but in a more kid-friendly size. Many parents prefer the iPad mini for their children because they have Apple products and appreciate being able to share with their kids apps and information among all of the devices.
Determining if a child is ready for a tablet is a difficult decision for parents, who must assess how well the child handles responsibility, toys and electronics in the home. Adults may opt for a more durable, less expensive tablet as an introduction to tablets for children and then gravitate toward more "adult" options as their children prove they can be responsible with the device.