Ask LH: What Tablet Should I Buy For A Two Year-Old?

Ask LH: What Tablet Should I Buy For A Two Year-Old?

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking to buy a tablet for my two year-old son. He has worked out how to use my Gnex and my Xoom with no problems, and I would like to get him his own device. Looking through the multitude of options within the 7-inch tablet space just makes my head spin. I want a quality device for around the $150 mark. Can you help with some suggestions? Thanks, Tablet Parent

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Dear TP,

$150 is a hard price point to meet; not that there aren’t Android tablets available for that kind of money, but that there aren’t that many that are that cheap and particularly good. Kogan’s a good example; while its tablets are undeniably cheap, as Gus found out when he tested it, they’re not neccessarily always particularly good. An added concern with buying a very cheap tablet is that the build quality is often shaky. There’s a couple of approaches to that; if your budget can stretch to it, the entry level Nexus 7 is reasonably robust (and good value for the money) at $249.

You could also opt for a second-hand model of something like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7; not the world’s greatest tablet, but if you’re not fussed about it being second-hand and a version or two behind in Android terms, there are some bargains out there — check places like Gumtree, but also check the condition carefully before laying down your cash. You could also opt for a cheap ten inch tablet and wrap it up in something like the Clumsy Case, making it distinctly more toddler-proof.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    • That’s a bit rough…

      Anyway, how about an Ainol Fire 7 inch? They are at your price point, not the best but I have one and the kids use it all the time with no problems.

      I guess at two years old you would be expecting it to be dropped, smeared with food, covered in liquid. So if you have to buy one, get a cheap one and expect the worst.

    • Dear Sayonarax,

      What an idiot you are – TP is being a good parent.

      A good parent exposes their children to life beyond the child’s current level and gives them a head start in life skills in a safe environment.

      Children need to be constantly exposed to things that are beyond their current development level to learn initiative and how to learn. Only an idiot would see the isolated comment of letting a child use a tablet and assume that the parent completely ignore’s their child.

      For TP: My recommendation is look at some of the kids-specific tablets, especially ones with heavy education focus, I’ve personally found that my 3yo has had a marked improvement in their vocabulary, comprehension and their skills with technology since I gave them their own LeapPAD at Christmas. (I especially like the E-Book apps on these, they really seem to cater to the learning reader.) – It’ll only have a limited life, until about age 7 at the most I think, but a main-stream tablet wouldn’t realistically last any longer either.

      I’ve also found it much better for them developmentally when on long trips in the car, they tend to get too bored looking out the window, and the apps/games are more interactive/engaging than watching a DVD.

      There are also good apps you can get for main-stream tablets which lock them down to certain apps etc. I’ve found them to be good, but not as confidence building for the child as their own tablet.

      Finally, it’s become a very good tool for defusing tantrums, “do as your told or you don’t get any tablet time today” really makes them pay attention. 🙂

      • While is it possible TP is being a good parent, from my experience it is highly unlikely.

        That majority of parents I see giving their kids tablets are using them to do the babysitting rather than doing any parenting. Many parents see it as a good way to keep the kids quiet and out of the way with movies or games rather than anything educational. And even in the case of educational activities if you have time to interact with your child instead of sticking a tablet in front of them you will still notice a marked improvement in vocabulary as well as developing their social skills.

        Not saying a tablet is a bad thing. As you mention it is useful in the car or at times when parents are busy and cannot spend time interacting with their children, but if it is a substitution for parenting time, as I see so often, it is just bad parenting.

        • Do you have kids yourself? I do. I have two.

          You most likely DON’T have any clue what else the kids you see using tablets are doing with the rest of their day. So how can you be so sure that’s what their parents are doing?

          Maybe you should stop judging?

          • I have one child, I work in a school and my wife works in child care. Believe me, I would not be expressing my opinion if I didn’t have a clue.

        • What about when your child is in the back of the car and you can’t reach back and soothe them while driving?

          What about when your child is constantly in the hospital and having to go back for tests that you’re unable to accompany them in?

          There are tons of reasons a table cam be good and educational. As long as you give your child restrictions and time limits.

      • I’m not going to buy my kids a tablet. But I’ll let them use the ipad. They love it!

        They have too many toys already. We’re planning a toy cull at my place.

    • I imagine this is one of those click-bait articles. People only click on the link because of how preposterous it is. I know I did. I’ve gotta stop doing that.

      • Not at all — the question came in via the Ask Lifehacker link, and I’ve answered it in good faith.

        For what it’s worth, there are a lot of quite good educational apps for the younger crowd; I’m not advocating a tablet-only existence, but there’s no reason it can’t be part of a play experience along with plenty of other visual, tactile and audible inputs. Parental supervision at that age should be taken for granted, rather than using the tablet as an ad-hoc babysitter, but there’s no reason it can’t be an educational aid, amongst other things.

  • I work in a kids hospital, and it astounds me the amount of children walking around with an iPad/iPod Touch in front of their face from as young as two. I do believe that its great for kids to get onto a computer at a young age, to help them out in the workforce in the long run (some of our 25-30 year old nurses can’t even type). but at the same time these kids should be playing with Lego, and developing other more important motor skills and hand eye coordination. Things a touch screen, just can’t do.

  • how about the good old fashioned thing called OUTSIDE!!
    Kids these days can’t throw or catch a ball because parents are letting them sit inside on the computer or buying them a damn tablet for a 2 year old!!

    • So sick of this attitude.
      The two things are *not* mutually exclusive.
      My kids both have a fulfilling outdoor life and are excellently proficient in navigating the ipads.
      They learn a lot in both environments.

      • They are , when a kid is playing on the tablet they are simply not playing outside, 10 years ago kids had no other option besides outside or playing with legos, painting whatever. Now instead of that the entire time is spent looking at a screen of some sort.
        The amount of kids these days that lack any fundamental movement skills is astonishing it’s actually very embarrassing not to mention the extreme lack of social skills these devices bring on.
        I know people who have been around technology for 5 years and they are socially retarded, they struggle to hold a conversation unless it’s about computers or games. If kids are spending most of there time on these technologies by the time they are 20 they have no social skills, no physical skills and are socially awkward to be around.

        These promote anti social behaviour and if your giving it to a child they are going to grow up thinking it’s the correct way to act, it’s a joke that people keep defending these devices saying they are good for kids. Outside, toys, building, climbing, running are the best things for kids and always have been and always will be

        • Again, you show your blind bias. A tablet / PC is MORE social than lego, painting “whatever” especially as most multiplayer games are linked deeply into the social networking mechanics so popular at the moment.

          My son having a Tablet since he was just under 2 has meant that he has *extremely* proficient fine motor skills.
          His puzzle solving skills is an order of magnitude better than the other kids in kindy and pre-primary.
          He is an extremely social child and fit as a fiddle now at 5 years old. (little bugger has a six pack developing, something I never had).

          You continue to talk about Tablets/Computers and outdoor life as being mutually exclusive and they are NOT. Just because you claim to only have examples of socially inept Computer users does not damn technology users to never learning social skills.

          They don’t promote anti-social behaviour any more than other solitary or indoor activity.

          If your examples cant ensure balanced children then that’s is a parenting issue, not a technology issue.

  • My 3 year old has a Nabi 2.

    Pros: Awesome hardware specs for the money (Tegra 3). Very solid and kidproof. Lots of educational apps, chores list with rewards, etc. I can also drop out to Mummy/Daddy mode with a password and becomes a standard Android tablet.

    Cons: not available from shops in Australia – found an ebay seller that would ship from the US. Some app incompatibility since not in US unless you use a VPN. Doesn’t have Google Play by default (although they are looking at adding it) but it can be installed if you are prepared to root and hack a little bit – got Bad Piggies running just the other night.

  • My two year old loves my iPad and iPhone just got to get her to stop deleting all my apps. She has been using with mine for over a year now. Did download a couple of apps for her and she knows how to get in to them and what each do. Is this the only thing she plays with? Well no but she dose enjoy it so I’m looking to get one of her own. NOTE buy a case, iPads do not like to be dropped or trodden on.

  • I don’t know if it’s just me, but the last thing i’d be giving a 2 year would be a tablet.

    no i’d get them building blocks, paint, things they can feel, manipulate & texturise.. there will be plenty of time for tech later.. but @ early stages I reckon getting physical (not virtual) with your environment is most important.

    It’s just the way it’s been done for humanities entire evolution.

    • For most of human evolution, we’ve also hunted our own food and wrestled with predators in a desperate bid at survival. Would you be advocating those things on the same grounds as well?

        • Don’t forget to teach her about skinning, so she can make her own clothes! It’s just the way it was done for most of humanity’s entire evolution, after all.

          • Shit yeah. Skinning is like, the most important. I’m not even touching agriculture until she’s at least 10.

  • Avoid “real” tablets like iPads and Android devices. Get something more suited to a child like a LeapPad or what not. It’s not about hardware quality (although children’s devices are designed to be abused a little more…), but what software is available. There’s just too many options to load up mindless junk on generic tablets, offering little educational value, or mind stimulation. The devices geared towards children specifically usually have a lot more educational software, so your kids can be distracted and actually getting something of value out of it as well.

    • I don’t strictly believe the thing about mor apps on leapfrog. Yes there are hundreds of mindless apps for android… But there are also real parents building things for their kids. Over the years i’ve been programming for mobile devices I’ve built several free apps for familial kids. Two were even installed on handhelds (palm pilots) given out by a school for special needs kids. They in fact asked for a few tweaks and i was happy as to do it (all free for the kids)

  • The problem with allowing children so young to have increased access to things like tablets, computers etc… is that you could be encouraging anti-social behavior (IE: not interacting with other adults or children, preferring isolation with a gadget over friends).

    I grew up with technology, but that was not until I began teenage years, prior to that I did have access to a computer (xt, 286, yes I am that old!!) that I rarely played it for more than 30 minutes before going outside to do stuff. I had consoles as well, but because I didn’t have that time being with my friends I do have some trouble socially.

    I have a 21 month old now, and she is already getting obsessed with what my wife and myself are doing on our smartphones when we quickly check messages, and emails.

    From my point of view with my almost 2 year old the last thing I want her to have is a tablet, its not needed or necessary. She has more fun playing with a card board box than they toy she got that came in the box!

    • Why not expose her to technology in a controlled manner, the same way you would do with anything else in her life? You don’t give a kid a whole cake and let them just go crazy stuffing their face, or throw them a big bag of lollies and not expect them to be sick from eating them by the end of the day. Like it or not, technology is an essential part of modern life and familiarising children with things they’ll need to understand in later life should be considered a good thing.

  • i bought both mine ipads, but if I was to do it again i would buy Android tablets.
    in particular something with at LEAST 32gb of memory OR microSD support.

    The new HP 7″ fits that and your price range (a little over at $199 in Aus though if you watch Kogan I bet he’ll come in a bit cheaper).

    do NOT buy the no name chinese knock offs.
    You *will* end up buying again after you get sick of the 2 hour battery life or some other esoteric issue.

  • My 2 1/2yo constantly uses our phones and tablets. He has toys too, and we limit his time on any kind of electronics. I’ve seen a definite increase in his problems solving ability from playing with it. The problem is, as many above have stated, that he sees us using our phones and tablets and wants to “play” with them too. But once you hand over your device to such a young child, apps get deleted, facebook posts get made, juice gets spilled etc etc. Not to mention that they then have access to any and all content your accounts have access to. I have just purchased a 7″ Ramos tablet for my son (still in the post) which I will set up with educational apps and parental controls.

    See, it’s not that I’m a bad parent or am neglecting my child. It’s that I want him to be able to play and experience through this medium safely, like he wants to, He still plays outside, plays with other children, talks beyond his age level, has his own toys etc etc etc. A good parent should know when to let them play with the tablet, and when to involve them in other activities. No device should ever replace good old fashioned parenting. But maybe, we have to consider new ideas for entertainment. Many parents just shove their kids in front of the TV every day, and how is that any better?

  • The horror! Children shouldn’t be using interactive learning devices, they should be playing with old fashioned toys that aren’t as efficient for cognitive development!

  • Some android tablets can come in new under the 100$ mark. They are a might bit slower than your top of the line devices, but they will be more than enough. There are thousands of good apps out there.. You may have to sift through poo to find em.. Then you’re used to poo sifting. My nephew (3) loves the camera on my ipad. Walks around snapping pictures all the time. Records videos too. And sings and dances in front of it too. Very very social little tike

  • People (Children especially) need to be able to MUSE not just be AMUSED… Unless of course if your child has autism or something, which make tablets great tools for communication and learning.

  • I’d look at a second hand iPad 2. There seem to b e a lot more child-oriented iPad apps out there that work really well.

    While my own 2.5 year old loves using the iPad, we heavily restrict her time on it. It’s a treat more than anything else. We’ve been really impressed with her fine-motor and problem solving skills and don’t have any issue with letting her use it as part of a mixed range of activities.

    Here are a few things that have been working for me:
    Play together. I love getting her to show me how she does things. There are also games we play that are multi-touch so we can do things at the same time
    Find apps that have an educational component. Even if they’re not in the ‘educational’ category, there are apps out there that can help kids learn – like GarageBand.
    Mix it up. There are some valid concerns here about kids spending too much time on devices, but mixed with other activities (books, toys, role playing, splashing in puddles, climbing on play equipment) it can serve as another option for your kids to learn and grow.
    Say no and mean it. One of the hardest things I’ve found isn’t just saying ‘no’ but making sure my 2.5yo knows I mean it. They don’t call it the ‘Terrible Twos’ for nothing. She loves using the iPad, but she knows she can only use it for short amounts of time on special occasions.

  • Everything in moderation. We wanted a cheap tablet for the kids to mainly watch movies on during car trips etc. Found the PIPO on eBay, a 7″ android tablet for $89 NEW, pretty decent specs and it does the job perfectly. Ended up buying 3 of them, one each!

  • If this person wants to buy HIS child a tablet, then that’s his decision. Its his kid. His opinion is the only one that matters. So why are so many of you commenting on his question bashing him? Why would he want his child to be anything like you people? You seem to be nothing but hateful people. I’m looking into getting a tablet for my young son. Not that I need to defend my decisions with you oh so accepting people, but when were on a long ride or having to wait for an extended period of time in a waiting room that isn’t kid friendly or in the car a tablet is a great thing to keep him entertained and there are plenty of learning app for him to play with. Your way isnt everyones way. Get over it. If you dont like it, guess what…you have no say in it! Its not your child. And to the one asking the original question Vtech makes some nice looking tablets for kids. There are several models, one is made for ages 1-9 and the rest are for ages 3-9. Theres also the nabi tablet made for kids. Its android based. Best of luck!

  • I have a 2 year old , && she plays with my galaxy s6 , as everyone else has stated above they see you using your phone & they want to ” play ” too. I got an app that is in the galaxy apps on your galaxy phone its called ” kids mode ” that way she is locked in kids mode unless you put the password in to get her out , I have nothing but educational apps on it , she has learned how to count and say her ABC’s from using it. She is also improving on her speach . I believe getting an iPad isn’t a bad parent , they want them to explore just like we did when we were little. Yes my daughter still plays with blocks, dolls, reads book, and plays outside! But I limit her time on my phone ,you can also limit the time your child plays on your phone with this app and after your child’s time runs out they won’t be able to access anything unless you give it the approval! Its a great app ! And it helped my daughter extremely! Also don’t listen to these people letting them tell you your a bad mom! You are your child’s mother , you asked a simple question about an iPad and they pretty much cyber bullied you! You know what’s best for your child not anybody else!

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