Best Electronics for Kids of 2020
The VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2 is a great introductory smartwatch for ages seven and over. It has the look and feel of an adult smartwatch with the functionality suited for a small human. Our testers found that they enjoyed reading the time to make sure they weren't running late, or to check how much time they had remaining on a given task. The pedometer feature is kid-themed and has a character that mimics the wearer's pace during kinesthetic games. It also gives feedback and encouragement during physical activities, both of which motivate your child to keep that walk or run going just a bit longer. We could go well over three days before needing a charge, although this duration may decrease over time. There is a camera that almost feels like a spy tool and a time-telling learning game to boost math skills.
With so many engaging functions, the KidiZoom Smartwatch walks a fine line between enrichment and distraction. It took our testers a few days to adjust to the wonder of having so many activities tethered to their wrists, and more than a few warnings were needed before some kids were able to self-regulate their use. Similarly, the adult-like look that many kids loved also means a large watch face that may be too bulky for smaller wrists. Overall, this kids electronics is not only a useful tool, but an engaging gadget to keep your kid's interest peaked for quite some time.
Take family night to a new level with the BONAOK Wireless Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone. This wireless microphone is also a portable karaoke machine that will have you belting out your souls jams for those long winter nights. Oh yes, it is quite fun for kids too! Third-party apps allow you to play an assortment of songs on the karaoke microphone through your phone. These apps also allow you to record your songs, edit your work, and add pictures or overall flare to your recordings. You can certainly use the microphone without the added apps, but you won't be able to play songs as these do not come preloaded on the device. Kids enjoyed taking center stage with this substantial microphone to feel like a real star. This electronic gadget brings a wonderful dose of arts and music into your child's activities.
Although the third-party apps allow you to enjoy this product more fully, it is an extra (and perhaps hidden) cost. Apps are compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, and many do feature a free trial period to test them out. Free options do exist; however, they may not contain all the songs or features you are looking for. You will find that the volume and voice distortion/modification features on the microphone are lacking, but the third-party apps do allow you to control the volume and audio features with more precision. The robustness and real-world feel of the microphone is a plus; however, it does come with costs. It can be heavy for smaller children, and a few kid testers did hurt their lips when the microphone bumped their lip during some really passionate solos. Overall, this is a fun electronic device that the whole family can enjoy.
Walkie talkies are a valuable device for every family. They can be a safety tool to use when out on excursions, a way for your child to check in while on the go, and a functional prop for imaginary play. The Selieve Walkie Talkies fit this bill nicely and comes in at an affordable price. The smaller size fits little hands well, and the buttons are easy to push. They have a decent range for around the house play but may be limited outside if there is dense building or vegetation cover. Kid testers kept coming back to this toy during free-choice play sessions and loved talking remotely to their buds.
Younger kids had a hard time figuring out which button was the "talk" button on the device, and all seemed to struggle with the volume control. One user hurt their ear by holding the device too close with the volume on high. The overall feel of the walkie talkie is a little flimsy and doesn't seem as if it could hold up to months or years of intense kid-play. Different coloration designs are available, but it was disappointing to see gender-specific naming in the product title (i.e., the blue model is titled "Boys Walkie Talkie"). If you are looking to test-drive walkie talkie technology, or want to build up to the more expensive two-way radios out there, then the Selieve Walkie Talkie is a good candidate.
We found that the JAMSWALL Handheld Game Console was most appropriate for one to three-year-old children, but it is a hit for kids seven and older. Once you pick up this device, you are instantly glued to the tiny screen, playing classic console games from the late '80s and early '90s. Once our kid testers were able to wrangle the device out of dad's hands, they became voracious mini-players that had to be pried away. The size fits smaller hands well, and buttons are easy to press, although they aren't labeled that clearly, and their function was a bit tricky for some kids to figure out. There is an option for two players, which can quiet some sibling rivalry over who's turn it is. We found that the two-player option didn't always work, however.
This electronic is highly captivating, which also means it can be quite challenging to put down. The small screen can be an eyesore after long periods of use as well. This device is not very robust, and the charge time is not that long, lasting only a few hours of play. This is a great item to throw in a bag if you are traveling with older kids, or looking for an exciting stocking stuffer.
Offering a new twist to your childhood Lite-Brite, the Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic Animal Theme will illuminate your evenings with colorful creatures that twinkle, glow, and fade away. You will need to purchase the Classic Lite-Brite separately to enjoy the 10 template designs found in this pack that include a cat, dog, fish, turtle, hummingbird, cardinal, dragonfly, orca whale, flamingo, and starfish. Our kid testers were excited with the template designs and enjoyed the four different light modes. The pegs were big enough for small fingers to punch through the templates, although some fingers got sore partway through the designs. The templates are reusable but you won't be able to tell what colors were in the original design after the first use. This frustrated some users who like to stick to the original color scheme. The large power button was easy to operate, so even young users could manage this device on their own.
All those colorful pegs are beautiful when they light up, but not so lovely when they are scattered across your floor or buried in your carpet. Kids who like easy-to-follow directions will love the simplicity of these templates, but we found kids enjoyed creating their own designs just as much. Even our most artistic and design-driven youngsters tired of this activity after 10 or 15 minutes. Many did choose to play with this device in subsequent play sessions, however, just as you may enjoy revisiting a childhood classic. If you are looking to teach shapes in a colorful and bright way, these animal shape templates will fit your bill and provide consistent engagement for a wide range of ages.
The Seckton Upgrade Kids Selfie is a fun way for kids to interact with their surroundings. After some prompting, kid testers could take pictures and videos on their own with minimal help. This device is an affordable camera that will entertain children for a moderate amount of time. Budding photographers can also dress up their pictures with kid-themed stickers and frames. The picture and video quality is not extraordinary but does the job for small humans. Plus, the smaller file size allows more images to be saved on the included memory card. The size is appropriate for ages three and up, but kids over ten may find it too small for their comfort. The battery life is decent and lasted one day of heavy use before needing a charge.
Most users found the game included on the device more entertaining than taking pictures and spent nearly all of their time using this device as a gaming toy. The buttons are a bit confusing and don't have easy to read labels, but once kids learn their function they could operate it fairly proficiently. If you are trying to limit screen time, then this camera isn't a good fit as many children will find the game all-consuming. If you want a versatile toy that offers an introduction to photography and the fun factor of a game, then this is a good option to consider.
Younger children love toting around their new pet friend with the VTech Care for Me Learning Carrier Toy. This kids electronic toy is a sturdy build and able to withstand long periods of intense play. The lights, sounds, songs, and phrases increase interaction with this toy and encourages imaginary play. The plush dog was an instant hit for children, as were the large buttons and kid-friendly design.
Although there are over 60 songs, melodies, sounds, and phrases, it won't take long before both you and your child are burned out with them. The volume has a limited range so you will most likely be getting an earful when this toy is in action. The included accessories (bowl, ball, comb, and bottle) were briefly used but did not greatly enhance the function of this toy. Overall, this electronic toy will be a loud hit for a short time before kids take the plush dog and forget about the carrier. If you are looking for a kids electronic device to spruce up your child's imaginary play, even if only for a short time, this carrier is a solid option.
The Leap Frog 100 Animals Book is a great book to build independent exploration and language development. The carrying handle is easy to grip, and although the tabbed pages may be challenging for the youngest users to turn, parents will appreciate the wipeable surface and well-marked pages. Users can choose from either English or Spanish to hear about animal names, sounds, and fun facts. The 12 different habitats offer a wide selection of animals and build the foundation for scientific research.
You will definitely be able to hear this learning toy coming. It is loud and offers a limited volume range so get ready to hear those interesting facts over and over again. Some fingers had a hard time pressing individual buttons on the slightly crowded pages with ultra-sensitive sensors. Others found the blinking yellow star distracting and tended to gravitate towards this flashing light instead of engaging with the pages. If you are looking to enrich your child's playtime with bilingual language development that is centered on interesting animals, then this is a good fit at an affordable price.
The Just Smarty Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart is a space-saving electronic device that teaches letters and sounds. Its simple design lets users focus on learning phonetics without distracting lights or sounds. Compared to other kids' electronic devices, Just Smarty has decent volume control and offers multiple volume levels. It is very simple for even young children to operate this touch-sensitive mat. Images are spaced well and laid out in a clear format. When not in use, it is easy to tuck this device away or leave it mounted to your wall.
The simple design leaves you to wonder what you are paying for. The MSRP is a fair amount to pay for this touch mat. Our kid-testers were not overly excited with this electronic device and did not spend much time interacting with it. Additionally, the touch sensors can be finicky if you don't hit them in the right spot. If you aren't concerned about cost, want a simple learning toy that offers volume control, and won't take up space, then the Just Smarty Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart is a good choice to consider.
The VTech Write and Learn Creative Center is a sturdy learning tool in a convenient format. The lap table design lends well for seated activities like car rides, and the assortment of buttons provide engagement for a moderate amount of time. The magnetic drawing board was a popular feature in our tester groups. It also features an assortment of games and sounds to promote letter and shape recognition.
The most captivating part of this device was the magnetic board, which began to show signs of wear after only a few uses; this feature does not seem like it will survive long periods of intense kid use. The myriad of buttons are hard for little minds to sort out, and many just ignored the keypad altogether. The accessories do not stay fastened in their designated spots well, so you should be prepared to lose these rather quickly. Despite these drawbacks, you might find moderate to significant value in this product (depending on your child's personality) if you have a long road trip coming up. As long as you don't mind the noise, it can be an engaging learning tool to keep your child entertained while seated.
Why You Should Trust Us
We began the process by researching over 100 of the best selling kids electronics before purchasing and testing 10 of the top products. We had numerous children from ages 3-8 years old (and their parents) thoroughly investigate these products in free-choice play sessions to determine not only the functionally and overall vigor of each product but the ease of use and ability to retain attention as well. Our testing team was led by Madelyn Rios, who is obsessed with finding the coolest gadgets and learning toys for young people, to make her classroom engaging and meaningful. She has been designing experiments and testing materials in both her science classes and in the field as a wildlife biologist for over 15 years. Her attention to detail brings a high level of precision to work and ensures tests are controlled and unbiased.
Analysis and Test Results
Kids electronics offer an incredibly wide array of products, which makes a side-by-side comparison very difficult. Despite this, we were able to look at the main aspects that should be considered when purchasing a product for your child, and evaluated how these products are received by relevant age groups. Additionally, the pros and cons of each model were considered as was their ability to meet testing criteria.
Ease of Use
The first thing we considered is ease of use because let's face it — if a child can't operate a device on their own, they will most likely not engage with it. Furthermore, if a parent can't easily assemble or get their child set-up, then it is equally as unlikely to get quality use. To test for this, we looked at how many accessories or cables were included, if it came assembled, if the buttons were clearly labeled and easy to use, and evaluated if children both under and over five years old could operate the device independently in play sessions. If users could operate the device with little to no adult assistance, then it received a high rating in this category.
The products that were the most simplistic where by far the easiest to use. The LeapFrog 100 Animals Book reads like a book and is ready to go once you get it out of the packaging. No instruction is needed before children as young as 12-18 months old can start turning pages and pressing buttons. The same is true for the Just Smarty Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart. Although there is a minimal amount of set-up for the Lite Brite Animal Theme, the small pegs can be a source of frustration if you are concerned with choking hazards or clean-up.
Once you've established both you and your child can use a device, you are probably most concerned that your child will continue using the product and that it is an engaging activity. We tested products to determine if they retain interest and if kid-testers are interested in returning to play or interact, with the product. If kid-testers engaged with an electronic for five or more minutes in one sitting and continued to choose this item to interact within subsequent play sessions, then we gave it a high rating for this category.
The JAMSWALL Handheld Game Console really knocked it out of the park on this metric and by far was the most captivating. The VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2 also rated really well in this category. Both of these are screened devices, so if you are looking for screen-free engagement, the Selieve Walkie Talkies retained a great deal of interest without the use of games or lights to draw users in.
Next, we looked at durability to determine how long you can expect your investment to last. Although every user exerts a different amount of force, and environmental conditions can greatly alter the longevity you may observe, we can predict what a typical user can expect by evaluating the robustness of a product. To do this, we observed the quality of materials used and how well it is built. If products are built from sturdy materials or made with a greater degree of craftsmanship, then products will last longer when they are dropped or handled by aggressive kid-testers.
The LeapFrog 100 Animals Book is well-built and the manufacturer has selected a durable material for their pages; this product held up very well in our robust kid-tester groups. No visible signs of wear or tear were observed after several play sessions or being dropped on both hard and soft surfaces. Similarly, the VTech Care for Me Learning Carrier Toy is a sturdy toy that also held up well with use and abuse. Users will most likely lose the accessories or wear out the plush dog long before the actual carrier takes a beating.
The ongoing cost to operate an electronic device is something to consider when purchasing a gadget for your child. For some products, you may find the cost of the batteries is higher than what you purchased for the item. To test for this, we evaluated if batteries are included or required, how many batteries are required, what type of battery, and a general test of battery life for products that use a rechargeable cell. The actual time battery life is influenced by many factors that are difficult to control or determine for various users. We did, however, track how long various kid-testers could operate a product before requiring a charge. As for battery types, products that required several larger batteries received a lower rating than those that operate with fewer or smaller batteries. If batteries are included, or fewer/smaller batteries are required, it will cost the consumer less to operate this product.
The LeapFrog 100 Animals Book and Just Smarty Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart both rated well in this category. They come with batteries, require few/small battery sizes, and because of their simplistic design (and minimal lights), they will be able to last for some time. For products that have lithium or rechargeable cells, the VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2 lasted for days without needing a charge. This is a useful feature for a kid's wearable device that gets tons of use throughout the day.
Finally, we tested how relevant the product's design is to overall kid style and fit. Obviously, personal preference makes it very challenging to test how one might like a product's look, but a manufacturer should consider how easy it is for the appropriate age group to handle a product and be comfortable using it. To evaluate for this criteria, we relied heavy on qualitative feedback from kid testers, but observed how easy or hard it was for them to handle the device as well.
We also assigned points for gender-neutral design and naming schemes when ranking products. Lastly, we considered the safety features, or drawbacks, of each product. If an item has a relevant design that appeals to a wide range of children and encourages safe and comfortable use, then it received a higher ranking in this category.
Although the VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2 may not fit smaller wrists well, it does a good job of balancing fit and function for the heart of this age range. It also offers a handful of different color options and a wristband that users found comfortable and easy to use. The graphics are interesting and attractive for the specified age range as well. The Lite Brite Animal Theme offered an assortment of templates that excited kid-testers. Their color arrangements are also bright and incorporate a good mix of choices, both of which were appreciated by users. The VTech Care for Me Learning Carrier Toy probably does the best job of creating a gender-neutral toy that is a great size and weight for the suggested age-range. There are some flashing lights on this device, however, which some users did not care for.
We hope you enjoyed reading about this selection of kids' electronics as much as we enjoyed testing them. These products can be a great gift for a child in your life, a useful learning tool for developing minds, or a much-needed form of self-entertainment during traveling or independent playtime. In a world that relies heavily on electronic gadgets and ever-increasing screen time, it is important to instill a responsible and thoughtful relationship with technology at a young age. In this way, children may learn to view, and use these devices in their most pure form: a tool for learning and development that can offer a brief mental escape when appropriate.
— Madelyn Rios