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Finally, a tablet market for children (Ages 3-12)

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A Nielsen survey of adults with children, under the age of 12, in tablet-owning households states that 70% of those children use a tablet. Now that’s a mouth full. In other words, if you have children and a tablet, 70% of those children are likely to use your tablet. We all love our children and they all love our gadgets, especially our tablets. Big enough for them to touch accurately and fun enough to capture their attention. Problem is that they are expensive and kids drop stuff.

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Depending on what type of parent you are and your mood at the time, there are several ways parents set up their tablets for their children. The tablet is regulated to being a DVD player, a game console, a learning tool or a book. But tablets can do so much more. We cannot discount the cognitive synapses it creates. Besides the fact that studies have shown that children who have used tablets tend to be more advanced than those that do not; why a tablet is great for your child? There are several factors:
1. With Voice features it teaches diction
2. Aids in reading, writing and spelling
3. Increases auditory skills
4. Sharpens hand eye coordination
5. Large number of autism apps
6. Parental content control
7. Cheaper than the cheapest iPod Touch
8. You can transfer your child's music from your iTunes library with Google Music Manager

So what tablets are available that are designed especially for children? Well as I said the market is expanding. Most sites highlight one or two tablets or focus on aspects that you may or may not care about. That’s a bunch of malarkey. This list illustrates tablets that are fast, are close to your tablet, have preinstalled customary software and will last:
a. Vinci Vs3001 Blk 7 – 8GB - 7 inches – Android 2.3 - $189 - Rear Camera
b. Archos ARNOVA Child Pad – 4GB – 7 inches - Android 4.0 - $159
c. Techno Source Kurio – 4GB – 7 inches – Android 4.0 - $149 - Rear Camera
d. Archos 502171 – 4GB - 7 inches – Android 4.0 - $119 - Rear Camera
e. Nabi 2 – 8GB – 7 inches –Android 4.0 - $199 – Rear Camera
f. MEEP Xplore – 4GB – 7 inches –Android 4.0 - $149 – Rear Camera
g. Lexibook Junior Tablet – 4GB – 7 inches – Android 4.0 - $149
h. Lexibook Master Tablet – 2GB – 7 inches - $130 – Rear Camera – Wi-Fi
i. Tabeo tablet – 4GB – 7 inches – Android 4.0 - $149 – Wi-Fi
j. FunTab Pro – 8GB – 7 inches – Android 4.0 - $149.99 – Rear Camera – Wi-Fi
k. XO 3.0 OLPC tablet - <$100 (This should be released sometime before the end of 2012)

Things to look for: 1. A child does not need more than 4GB of memory. Generally children don’t save large files. 2. You want a Wi-Fi tablet that can link to your home network or a free network. This will ensure that all apps and services work correctly and will save you money. 3. Expect these tablets to be a bit bulky with the encased design to make sure that these last even when dropped. 4. A 7 inch tablet is probably the best size as a larger tablet is too big for a child’s hands and too heavy to effectively manage. 5. Preferably you want Android 4.0 which is the most widely used tablet software. 6. Lastly, children love pictures, so I would also suggest a camera on the back. (Something with Megapixels – everyone hates crappy pictures). Although all these tablets do not have everything stated above, they are still great tablets. 7. The lower cost should give you an indication that something has to give or else all tablets should be priced similarly. Therefore, don’t feel bad about compromises.

Why an Android tablet over VTech InnoTab 2 or LeapPad 2? Quite simple: the moment your child realizes that their tablet doesn’t have the same apps – you will regret ever purchasing something that will be used for a very short period of time. As well, these tablets have a sophistication about them that will have a lasting effect. Paying these prices and it being chucked to the side is a definite SMH (head shaking) moment. Click the video to the left or click here which tells you about the Nabi.

Prediction – Expect an Amazon tablet designed for kids.

So what apps are good for your children? I have done some research and tried to compile a list that represent some of the more popular and teachable applications available on the Android market. Although most of the tablets listed above come with proprietary software here is a list with a link and a brief description:
Color & Draw For Kids – Coloring program
Magic Piano – teaches how to play songs
TIMES TABLES: Squeebles Multiplication – Teaches the times tables
Cause and Effect Light Box – Sensory Light Box to help autism kids
A day at the circus – Story with 20 mini games
MOO, BAA, LA LA LA! – Sandra Boyton’s best selling book
The Icky Mr Fox – Interactive story Book for children
The Lorax – Famed Dr. Seuss book
Kids ABC Letters – teach your kids ABCs
Sight Words Games & Flashcards – Flash cards to aid reading
ASL Dictionary – Learn sign language
Jump Start Preschool 2 – Preschool educational app for reading, math and critical thinking
Algebra Tutor – Learn Pre-Algebra and Algebra
Div2 – Long Division

Educationally, move your kids to the next level and use a tablet for more than Angry Birds. Chime in and follow me on Twitter, join NY Android on Facebook or subscribe here.

Update 12/4/12: A good friend asked me why the iPad Mini is not on the list, so I thought I should expound. Price is big factor. The iPad is not constructed for kids, no pre-loaded software for reading, math or critical thinking, lack of parental blocking controls, lack of remote monitoring and control afforded to parents and lack of pre-loaded books, movies and videos for kids as well. Specifically these tablets are made to be dropped, some are germ free, and spill proof. Based on your needs take the points that are valid for your situation.

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