A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Kid-Friendly and Library-Compatible

by on February 12, 2013

During the recent holiday season,  I had a lot of parents asking me about E-readers and tablets for their children. Though I’m not a big pusher of technology for my own child, I always try and keep an open mind when it comes to my patrons. I started to do some snooping around, attempting to find kid-friendly, parent-controlled, and library-compatible tablets and E-readers for kids. Below are my top choices:
Nabi 2 and Nabi Jr.
These two made-for-kids tablets are run on an Android operating system which will allow avid library users the ability to download either the Overdrive or the 3M Cloud apps and utilize the library’s eBooks.

  • It comes preloaded with many kid-friendly games and lots of free music.
  • It’s a “grow-with-your-kid” type of system. The Nabi Jr. even comes with the option to have a pretty hi-tech baby monitor that runs with your cell phone or even a karaoke machine that you use through your television.
  • It comes with a “drop-safe” bumper (as a parent of the 3-year-old this would be a must in my house!)
  • The major drawback is the Nabi’s store. It’s pretty easy for a kid to go in and start using their points to buy things that parents may not have approved  or want their children to use just yet, and there are no refunds.

Nexus 7
This tablet is a great all-around family tablet. It’s very fast, has a long battery life, and it also runs on the Android operating system. Again, this enables users to download those library-friendly apps they need for borrowing eBooks.

  • There are no set parental controls, yet, on the Nexus 7. However, in the Play store one can download Funamo or Kids Place apps for free. This stops kids from clicking on ads, getting into the store and purchasing items, etc. It also controls the content that the children can use and view on the tablet. A password is required to exit the app and use the tablet freely. These apps, also, allow you to set timed sessions.

 LeapFrog, LeapPad, and LeapPad 2
My daughter owns the original LeapPad and this kid-oriented tablet is the way to go for those early learners.

  • It doesn’t have the Play store or iStore available, all content must be LeapFrog content, but it comes preloaded, and content can also be purchased online, or through retailers.
  • Kids cannot connect to the Internet, all the information is right at their  fingertips and it’s all “learning” geared. They “walk” their pet by tracing letters, or they help Diego search for an animal in need of rescue by finding particular numbers. Kids are learning without even realizing it.
  • The games and content are well tailored, but it can get expensive. LeapPad games run anywhere from $20.00-$30.00, but the amount of information packed into that one tiny game cartridge is really worth it. My daughter only owns about 3 games, but all the preloaded content that came on the LeapPad more than makes up for this.

 So, what should you look for as you think about purchasing a tablet or other readers for a child? Here was my criterion:
–          Speed
–          Child protections: Can the child get online? Stream inappropriate content? Purchase items accidentally? Physical protection? Could it hold up to a fall down a stairwell?
–          Storage: How much space is on the item? Movies, music, and apps all need room to be utilized, let alone the eBooks or other items you want to use.
–          Price
–          Mainstream app store or specialized to the device?
One of the main questions you need to have parents ask themselves is whether they want their children to have access to the Internet? If they don’t, LeapPad or VTech have great products available.  I always remind my parents, when you invest in those “wireless internet-enable” items, they are great learning tools, but you are opening your child up to a whole world….the ONLINE WORLD! Having tools like Kids Place helps put some damper on their ability to search and seek out information that they may not be prepared to view just yet.

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