Finding the perfect toy for a child without spending a fortune isn’t always the easiest mission for family and friends. Never mind trying to find a toy that’s at least somewhat educational and can provide enough fun to keep your kid coming back for more. Fortunately, we’ve done the homework for you and selected some of the best electronics and tech toys for kids to keep them happy, occupied and out of trouble.
Best Overall: Razor Hovertrax 2.0
Ideal for kids ages eight and up, the Razor Hovertrax 2.0 is still one of the hottest toys on the market. With the fire-safety concerns in the rear-view mirror, the hoverboard might not be the most educational gift, but it’s a great way for kids to hone their motor skills. Capable of cruising at a speed of around 8 mph on a 350-watt motor, the Hovertrax 2.0 can run for around 60 minutes of continuous use for riders up to 220 pounds. For extra support, the Razor includes its exclusive EverBalance technology that makes for an easier mount and smoother ride, especially for beginners.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best hoverboards.
Best Educational: VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk
Sometimes for younger kids, a fully electronic toy isn’t the best because you want to encourage them to partake in more tactile creativity while also learning via electronic capabilities. This VTech desk does just that.
When it’s in desk form, it comes with a variety of content sheets that teach children different things from basic anatomy to geometry to letters and words. It does so with bright colors and pictures that connect into three electronic mechanisms: an LED screen to highlight numbers and letters and give feedback, a number dial touch pad for learning math, and a mini radio for playing the tunes that go with the lessons. The content packs are expandable with separate cartridges so once your child masters these basics, you’ll keep them learning and asking for more fun.
If you want them to learn more traditional writing and drawing, the desk folds up into a standing easel with a chalkboard and internal storage so they can doodle and sketch like kids have been doing since long before modern tech. It’s the best of both worlds.
The VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk is recommended for children ages two and up.
Best Drone: Hogs Helix X4
Recommended for ages eight to 13 years old, the Air Hogs Helix X4 quadcopter is a great beginner drone that’s durable enough to handle a rough and tumble new user. With a charge time between 45 to 60 minutes, users will have around five or six minutes of flight time (which admittedly isn’t much), but it’s enough to offer kids a chance to get their feet wet and learn the hand-to-eye coordination required for more expensive and larger drones. And because it only has a flight distance of around 40 meters, parents won’t have to worry about FAA regulations or the kids straying too far from the yard.
Best Robot: 4M Tin Can Robot
The 4M Tin Can Robot isn’t the flashiest robot around, and it is certainly not even close to the most expensive. But what it lacks in cutting edge features it makes up for in creative and educational value. This kit comes with everything you need to transfer your standard tin or soda can into a moving, functioning little robot.
The kit comes with a variety of wheels, erector-style metal pieces, glue, lubricant, and wiring that lets you piece together whatever type of robot you want, and it even comes with a detailed set of instructions with recommendations on what kind of robots you should build. The whole project is for kids age 9 and up and not only does it foster a sense of valuable environmental principles, but it will also get kids curious about engineering and STEM fields. The whole set runs on 1 AA battery and can even be mixed and matched with other 4M robot kits for exponential amounts of creativity.
Best Tablet: Dragon Touch Y88X Plus
Competing with Amazon is tough for any company, and with the new Fire tablets aimed at kids, you might think that’s the best bet on this list. But, the Dragon Touch holds its own because it’s a tablet that’s designed from the ground up just for kids. This 7-inch tablet comes with a quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM so it’ll run the Android-based OS at snappy speeds. There’s 32GB of storage on the device and the resolution is very crisp at 1024 x 600 pixels. The tablet itself comes encased in a silicon-type, kid-friendly case that has substantial bumpers for drops and playtime.
The Dragon Touch comes preloaded with a special kids patch OS called Kidoz that gives them full, independent freedom to choose their games and apps, while also remaining safely in a “playground-type” environment. And the best part? The tablet comes preloaded with 20 Disney story books and 4 audio books including Frozen, Zootopia, Moana, and more, so you’re basically getting a tablet and the keys to the Disney book vault.
Best Headphones: Puro Sound Labs
Widely regarded as the best kid-friendly headphone around, the Puro Sound Labs features volume limiting protection at 85db (decibels), so parents don’t need to worry about kids trying to play audio too loud for their own good. Past sound, the Puro offers 40mm custom dynamic drivers, which makes for a sound experience that rivals more expensive headphones. When it comes to travel, the headphones fold flat for storage, so they’re great for sticking in a backpack or carry-on. With wireless capability, the Puro lasts for around 18 hours on a single charge and includes a corded option just in case.
Best Video Game: Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch made serious waves this last release cycle with a truly impressive and seamless “switchability” between full-on console gaming and that same experience shrunk down to your pocket. The Switch is, as a result, a proper followup to both the DS line and the Wii line. The console itself is basically a thin sub-one-pound tablet with a 6.2-inch screen that offers a super crisp 1280 x 720 pixel touchscreen right on it.
To play it most easily in its mobile state, they recommend locking in the Joy Con controllers on either side which essentially give you physical, tactile buttons to use while playing on the go. But, take this console-tablet hybrid and lock it into the at-home dock that’s connected to your TV and you’ve got a fully functional, traditional game system that performs at high levels with an NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor and up to 1080p graphics output. There’s internal storage capability up to 32GB with expandability via MicroSD cards. Plus, with all the latest generations of games including Mario and Zelda, this system will pay dividends as the holiday gift that keeps on giving.
Best Smartwatch: Orbo Bluetooth Kids Smartwatch
Paired via Bluetooth, this take on a kid-focused smartwatch will offer your child a pretty seamless connection to smartphones and other smart devices. The watch comes with a a variety of games and activities focused on teaching kids how to read time, how to answer math problems and solve puzzles. That Bluetooth-connectivity will let them answer calls from family members if the watch connected to a phone. The capacitive touch screen is beautiful and vivid, and the on-board camera lets them take selfies and pictures. It’s all stored on an internal 1GB of memory, which is expandable to 32GB via an additional MicroSD card. It comes with a microUSB cable for transferring the photos they take, and the watch itself is extremely durable with a soft rubber bumper surrounding the whole device. And with an ultra long-lasting battery, your kid will be sure to have plenty of juice for every activity built right into this little powerhouse.
Best Laptop: ASUS C202SA Chromebook
With up to 10 hours of battery life and a rugged build that can more than withstand a few bumps and bruises, the 2.65-pound ASUS C202SA Chromebook is the ideal gift for children. Powered by an Intel Core Processor and 4GB of RAM, the computer has 16GB of storage and Google provides more than 100GB of cloud storage through Google Drive with every purchase. It has a spill-resistant keyboard and reinforced rubber designed specifically for students both inside and outside of the classroom. The C202SA is also designed to withstand a drop from a height of 3.9 feet without any sort of functional disruption. Beyond durability, the 180-degree hinge is ideal for fully opening the Chromebook to provide better viewing angles, especially during study groups.
Best Camera: VTech Kidizoom DUO
For children ages 36 months to nine years, the VTech Kidizoom DUO camera will give your kid their first glimpse at photography life and provide hours of entertainment. With two cameras switching between the front and rear lens, the DUO is good for selfies while still offering 4x digital zoom, a built-in flash, five games and parental control settings to limit game playtime. The 2.4-inch TFT display pairs with a 1.92-megapixel camera for capturing shots, which can be stored within the 256MB of on-board memory. Fortunately, there’s room for memory expansion with a microSD card that can be purchased separately. To help preserve battery life (four AA batteries), the camera automatically shuts off after three minutes of no usage.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best kids-friendly cameras.
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