I am buying my one-year-old daughter a tablet. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no screen time for a one-year-old, but that is simply unrealistic.
Listen, lab-coats and snooty parents, we respect Ms. Rachel in this house. She is our co-parent and our saving grace when our baby girl is inconsolable. And guess where she’s at? The TV! Guidelines about modern technology aren't going to stop tech from becoming a part of a child’s entire life.
Let’s talk about acceptable moments of screen time and which kids tablets I am considering for my daughter.
Technology is the future
You cannot escape it. I don’t know about you, but I’m not waiting until 10PM just to watch some TV. Your child is going to end up having screen time, whether they’re watching TV with you or they’re watching educational videos, so you might as well make the most of it.
Do your own research and find out what works for you. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that for the first 18 months, children have no screen time other than FaceTime or Skype with family members. And it just so happens that educational videos like Ms. Rachel or Super Simple Play with Caitie look like you’re video chatting with someone. If screen time is inevitable for your kids like it is for me, then you have to be selective about what they’re watching (don’t watch Cocomelon).
My daughter fell in love with ducks because of Ms. Rachel. She’s learned all the songs and she dances to them (Oh? Is that physical activity I see?). Ms. Rachel taught her how to clean up her toys and how to share. When she’s done with bathtime, she puts her toys away on her own, and when she’s eating food, she’ll hold out her hand so she can share with us.
Screen time can become a positive if they’re watching stimulating content. Even WHO states that its definition for sedentary screen time does not include active screen-based games where physical activity or movement is required. Guess what has fun screen games? A tablet!
The best thing about a kids tablet is that they have parental controls. I’m not really worried about my one-year old understanding the ins and outs of the tablet, but ensuring that she remains within the confined spaces that we tailor to her needs is important.
“It needs to be shatterproof”
As my lovely wife pointed out, one of the key features that this tablet needs is to be baby proof. Let’s face it, one-year-olds aren’t delicate. They kick, scream, and throw objects all over the place, so we need something that isn’t going to burst at the first impact of a baby-Hulk smash.
For that requirement, I am turning to the Amazon Fire 7 Kids tablet, which costs $109 at Amazon. It has a protective case that Amazon claims is designed to protect against drops and bumps. And while I am not one to take a company’s word as gospel, Amazon offers a two-year worry-free warranty. So that means if it breaks within two years, you can return it and Amazon will replace it.
“It needs to be cheap”
The last thing we want to do is drop triple digits on a piece of tech for a child that may or may not break the thing. But how cheap can a tablet get?
Well, Amazon is two for two on this one. It just so happens that the Amazon Fire 7 Kids tablet is on sale at Best Buy for $54 at the time of writing. But it’s not just on sale, it’s the cheapest kids tablet I was able to find across multiple sites.
Companies aren’t exactly printing kids tablets in a factory (well, I guess they are, but you get the point). There are very few valid options out there, and Amazon is continuing to dominate the market.
“It needs to be interactive”
Apart from being indestructible and cheap, this tablet needs to actually keep our daughter entertained. We want access to educational videos as well as games to stimulate her brain.
Amazon is taking this one again, but it’s not the tablet you think. I am considering the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro tablet, which is only $20 more ($74) if you’re going to Best Buy. It’s slightly larger, which I’m not a big fan of, but the most important thing is that it’s faster and has longer battery life.
You know who gets frustrated when things don’t load fast enough? Kids. We have the patience and recognition to understand that our devices need to load (I’m old enough to remember dial-up). A screaming baby in the middle of the day does not. So I’d like that slightly faster kids tablet, please.
In terms of interactivity, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro tablet offers one-year of Amazon Kids+ content that includes books, movies, TV shows, and games. My daughter loves when I read to her, and she also loves watching interactive content like Bear in the Big Blue House (yes, this was my childhood show). Our daughter also likes to mimic us, and guess what I do all day? Play video games. So when we get the chance, we put interactive games in front of her to play with on our smartphones, but phones are small and delicate. A larger screen will make this easier.
Which kids tablet is right for me (my kid)?
Before I even started writing this article, I figured my search would land me on Amazon’s doorstep. The company has dominated the kids tablet market for years, and even when larger companies like Samsung step in, it implements them poorly (see Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite Kids Edition).
So which tablet is it? Is it the Amazon tablet or the Amazon tablet? (I’m funny.) I think I’m probably going to go for the Amazon Fire 7 Kids tablet because of the smaller size. Despite the slower processor, it’s more affordable and my kid will have an easier time holding the device.
The most important thing when looking for a tech device for your child, is to figure out what will work best for the both of you.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.