Are children ready for a tablet?

NORTH COUNTY – 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.

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:

• Samsung models for kids have a selection of educational functions, games and e-books. Check camera quality if that is important, because it can vary.

• VTech has models that tailor apps to children in a compact device. The price tags are moderate for a child’s first experience into the world of tablets.

• LeapFrog has learning tablets designed for children between the ages of 4 and 9 with 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 Android nabi is geared entirely toward kids and comes in different versions depending on age. Certain models have been award-winners.

• Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a popular option. Less than half of the price of its biggest competitor, the Kindle Fire still allows kids to access a bevy of features.

• 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.

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