Mum, Can I have a go on your iPad?

tablets for kidsWe hear this a lot in our house.

We only have one tablet computer for the household because a) Mum husband is scared of them and b) we are an Apple household and buying another iPad seems rather extravagant. I would rather deal with the fallout from sharing than forking out another £450 ish pounds.

However, my daughter’s Christmas list involves an iPad Mini, and whether or not we actually decide that we would like Santa’s little elves to *make* one of these, it got me thinking about what it is about tablets and kids that we need to consider before we go ahead and buy one.

How robust do you want it to be?

I don’t mean durability here – I mean whether or not your child will have outgrown it in a few years. My daughter is eight, and I think getting her a children’s tablet may cause her to regress into tantrum-dom!

If you have younger children, then children’s tablets like either the Leapad (£109.99) or the VTech Innotabs (from £49.99) might be something you would consider. These are durable with those slightly cumbersome special cases that if you do drop them are likely to survive. Drop an iPad and not only will your bank balance take a bit of a denting, but so will your tablet.

Is it going to be something your child will use longer term?

For younger kids, the robust nature of the tablets made for children may be something you want to consider, as we discussed above. However, these needs to be balanced alongside the functionality, flexibility and longevity of the tablet. Is it really going to meet the needs of your child?

What are you using it for?

Depending on the age of your child, you might want the tablet for educational purposes, or to help them become more digitally savvy. Though an Innotab introduces the concept of tablet computers well, it doesn’t provide the array of Apps that an android tablet, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note Tablets (£599.95), or the iPad can.

For example, Maily is an application that runs on the iPad which enables you to introduce email to a young audience, but with parental controls, and security in place. This can give children a good understanding of virtual communications without the associated scariness!

Do you need WiFi?

Many tablets, including the Innotab 2, and iPads come with both WiFi and non WiFi versions. Do you want to be able to download any apps straight to a device, or have to hook up to a PC. Costs are higher for WiFi enabled devices, but are you willing to take the hit for the sake of convenience?

Are you iOS or Android, or don’t you care?

Sometimes you fall into a particular camp and therefore you have no choice. We have had Apple devices for years, and I can’t be bothered to change. We have all the apps, and moving to Android is too much hassle. However, perhaps if you are starting out you can take a more whollistic view of things? Android devices can be multi-user with changing profiles, including different security settings, depending on who is using the tablet. This is ideal for kids as you can lock-down in app purchases, and set YouTube security, etc. specific to the user. This is missing in iOS much to our annoyance…

What is your budget?

You need to bear in mind all the above before decided on your budget. If you only wish to spend £100 or less, then kids’ tablets could be your best bet, but be prepared to upgrade as your child either wants to get a device “like daddy” or needs more functionality. There are Android devices now starting at this price though, including the Argos My Tablet (£99.99). This is a smaller screened device, and has a lesser screen quality, but can still run the apps at half the price of other brands like Samsung. If you are willing to spend a little more, and want apps first, then the iPad or the iPad Mini could be the one for you. However, you have to bear in mind that supervised play for younger children with these is a must otherwise you might end up with a shattered screen and a ruined day ;-)

What other things do you think you need to consider when buying a tablet for your kids. Note: Information for this article was collected at an Argos sponsored event on tablets for kids, thanks to all the other bloggers for the active discussion, and to David McClelland for keeping us all under control.

All opinions are my own. Check out the other bloggers who attended for their opinions on the tablets too as they are published:

Image above courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.