Gift Guide: Do homework when buying a tablet for kids

By Bree Fowler

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

My main complaint: You can't set up individual profiles for multiple kids.

— Kurio 7S, $150, designed for ages 3 and up:

The Kurio also has separate modes for kids and adults. It comes with e-books, popular games such as "Angry Birds Space" and educational apps designed to teach reading and math. Games featuring popular cartoon characters are there, too.

Additional apps start at $1. The Kurio store has only kids-friendly content, organized by age group. Kids can shop on their own if you put a few dollars in their virtual piggy banks.

The tablet's layout isn't great, however, and younger children may have trouble with the small icons.

You can create profiles for up to eight children. It has a Web browser that tries to filter out potentially unsafe content, including social media. This approach may inadvertently let in some questionable content, but it's also better at letting in more useful content than a pre-screening approach.

The tablet's good for parents who want to give their kids more freedom online.

— Vinci MV 7" Android 4.1 Tablet, $200, designed for kids 3 and up:

This tablet lacks the flash of the others. You don't get separate modes for kids and adults. You can't block out Web browsers or social media. It's something for parents and kids to use together, rather than something to hand a child and walk away.

What makes this for kids is Vinci's app library. The company sells a wide variety of educational software. Some apps are free, while others cost less than $10.

Although the apps might not be the flashiest, they're strictly educational. And it's the only one I tested capable of connecting to cellular networks — useful on long car trips. You'll need a data plan.

— Kindle Fire, starts at $139, with FreeTime geared to ages 3 to 8:

Although not specifically geared toward kids, the Kindle Fire still has a lot to offer them.

Amazon.com Inc.'s FreeTime feature creates a separate mode for kids and limits them to just the content you want them to see. You also can set up multiple profiles, so each child can manage his or her own app library. The feature is free to use.

Starting at $3 a month, Kindle FreeTime Unlimited lets kids download as many age-appropriate e-books, games and apps as they want. Although content may lean heavily toward cartoon characters and sometimes lack educational value, the variety is sure to please many children.

Follow Bree Fowler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/APBreeFowler

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