Finding the perfect tablet for kids

When children want a tablet, it becomes similarly difficult for parents as with the first smartphone. What should they consider when choosing? And how can they ensure responsible use?

After long discussions, the decision has been made: the offspring will get their own tablet. But does it have to be a brand-new device or even a “kids’ tablet”? And what settings are important?

The advantages of children’s tablets

Special tablets for children, such as those offered by Amazon, are designed to make it safer for kids to use the new hardware. The software installed on them, for example, excludes certain apps, blocks websites that are not age-appropriate and offers special data protection settings. “They are easy to use and mainly suitable for playing games,” explains Günther Anfang, a media educator at the JFF – Institute for Media Education in Munich.

Compared to the “adult devices”, the children’s tablets are often even cheaper. This is also due to the fact that they are usually less well equipped technically, i.e. they come with low storage space and a lower-quality camera. Despite or precisely because of this simple equipment, such devices are well suited for the very young. “Such devices are worth considering for younger children, but they don’t absolve parents from keeping an eye on what their little ones are doing and establishing rules,” says Iren Schulz, a media coach at the initiative “Look! What your child is doing with media. You can’t hand over responsibility at the checkout counter, adds Günther Anfang.

One advantage of special children’s tablets over devices that the whole family accesses is that only the child or children play with the device, and usage times can be preset. However, according to Schulz, games or apps are preinstalled here that are not necessarily suitable for every child and his or her needs. Here, it is important to check whether the child is not overburdened with them.

Children’s tablet can also be used

If it is to be your own or a family tablet, a used device from mom or dad or an inexpensive entry-level model is a good option. “A young used tablet would be the ideal solution,” says Schulz. According to her, models that are too old carry the risk that updates will no longer be offered for them. If several people want to use the tablet, there should be separate user profiles for the adults and children, Schulz says.

According to Anfang, the most sensible accessories for a children’s tablet are robust, shock-resistant cases and a bulletproof glass film as a screen protector. “The cases are usually designed in such a way that children can grip them better,” Anfang knows.

Data protection and screen time

On every tablet, security and parental control settings can be made in the settings, as well as screen time. Search engines such as “fragFinn” or “Blinde Kuh” can also be set up here, according to Anfang, to ensure child-friendly access to the Internet. Schulz also advises using the Google Family Link app. This can be used to display activity reports, control the download of apps or lock devices after a certain time, according to the manufacturer.

In addition, it is recommended to install a security app for Android devices. One example is the filter software app “JusProg”, which protects children from content on the net that is not age-appropriate. “Always remain transparent and discuss all steps with your offspring so that they don’t think you want to ban them from everything,” Schulz recommends.

iOS devices offer the option under Screen Time to set restrictions with a code assigned specifically for this purpose. In addition, inappropriate web content can be automatically filtered and hidden in Safari and in apps. Parents can approve or block certain websites themselves, explains Anfang.

Preparing children properly for the Internet

Determine usage time together

“Establish rules for usage time together with your child,” Anfang elaborates. The general recommendation for screen time is: up to five years, a maximum of 30 min per day; from six to nine years, one hour. “After that, you can agree on a weekly quota,” says Schulz.

However, technical locks should not be relied upon; communication is important here as well, she said. “Parents should always keep an eye on what their children are doing with the tablets to guide them,” says the media educator.

With material from dpa