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From interactive robots to smartwatches specifically designed for little ones, there's no shortage of electronics for kids. But today's kids, who have grown up around tools like Alexa, GPS, and the iPhone, are also a discriminating bunch. To help you find the best option for your needs, we researched the hottest electronic gift options to keep kids entertained, engaged, and even physically active.
Here, the best electronics for kids.
Best Overall: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
If you buy only one electronic device for your child, make it this popular, affordable tablet. It comes in a tough, rubberized case (in a choice of pink, purple, or blue) that might just withstand toddler (or tween!) tantrums. The interface is extremely kid-friendly, though admittedly not as slick as some of its competitors, but it does include a web browser and can even run apps like Zoom if your kid needs to jump on a class meeting for distance learning.
Each purchase also includes a yearlong subscription to Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited service, which comes with more than 20,000 apps, games, books, videos, audiobooks, and content from sites like PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, and Disney. (Once the year is up, the service costs $2 monthly, but you can opt-out at any time.) If you want to go beyond FreeTime, the Kindle has 32 GB of storage and you can opt to add even more with a microSD card.
Best for Toddlers: Fisher-Price Linkimals Play Together Panda
With this plush, chatty bear, Fisher-Price proves that electronic toys for toddlers can be both cuddly and high-tech. Aimed at little ones 9 months and older, this panda has a light-up belly with a huge button that makes it easy for little ones to operate on their own. With a press of the button, they'll hear about numbers, shapes, and even tips for good manners, as well as plenty of songs and giggles.
Because messes happen daily for kids this young, parents will be happy to know that the electronic components can be removed and the soft outer layer can be machine washed. The Linkimals creatures are designed to work together, so if a friend has another toy from the series, they can be set up to interact with one another.
Best for Preschoolers: Leapfrog My Own Leaptop
Toddlers and preschoolers love to imitate their parents and caregivers—it's one of the ways they learn more about the world around them—and this colorful, rugged laptop toy lets them do that in a big way. There are four different modes: alphabet, messages, games, and music. In alphabet mode, kids will learn a specific letter, its sound, and words that start with it. Other fun features include animal trivia games, email messages from Scout (LeapFrog's main character) that get read aloud, and 16 different songs and melodies.
Best STEM: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101
If you keep hearing the words "Lego Robotics" but aren't quite sure what the fuss is about, this toy is a great introduction to the concept. Aimed at kids ages 7 and older, it's designed to introduce them to coding. The kit can be used to create five different machines, from a classic-looking robot that talks and dances to a guitar with sound effects.
To use it, you'll need to download the company's free app, which has an easy-to-grasp coding interface that teaches kids about concepts such as loops and variables. The app is regularly updated, so even after your child has built all the possible combinations, they'll be able to find new challenges and even interact with friends who are also using it.
Best for Gaming: Nintendo Switch
There's a reason why this hybrid gaming system—which can be either attached to a television or used handheld—is so popular it often sells out. Kids and adults can choose from more than 2,000 different games, including family favorites like Mario Kart, Just Dance, and the ever-addictive Animal Crossing. Parents can easily keep an eye on their kids' gaming habits with the intuitive settings that allow them to set time limits and block them from downloading content that isn't age-appropriate. The Switch can also be set up for remote play, so if your kids are missing their cousins who live several states away, a multiplayer Super Smash Bros tournament can be set up with just a few clicks.
Best Educational: LeapFrog Magic Adventures Globe
LeapFrog has given the classic bookshelf globe a fun 21st-century update. Children as young as 5 years old will love playing with this interactive toy that has a digital stylus and a three-inch screen that shows BBC videos about different destinations. But the three-dimensional globe shape helps them understand the planet's geography in a more concrete way than simply looking at flat or even 3D maps online. They'll learn about topics such as language, culture, animals, and habitats, and also have the chance to play three different games. Although the globe comes with five hours of videos, parents can also purchase additional adventure packs from LeapFrog (subjects include ancient civilizations and dinosaurs) to keep the learning going.
Best Wearable: Fitbit Ace 2
If you're hoping to help your children understand the connection between staying active and feeling good, the Fitbit Ace 2 is designed to do exactly that. This swimproof, kid-friendly version of the popular adult wearable comes in bright colors and kids can customize their animated clock face and avatar. The dashboard includes two views: One is just for kids and shows only their step stats and badges earned, the other includes more specific activity details for parents, and also enables them to approve or reject any Fitbit friend requests. Like the adult Fitbit, this one also comes with optional hourly reminders to move and sleep tracking, which might encourage your child to turn in early for better numbers. It's best suited for children aged six and older.
Best Camera: FujiFilm FinePix XP140 Digital Camera
Assuming you trust them to take good care of it, rather than buy your children a specific "kids' camera" it makes more sense to invest in a rugged, high-quality option like the FujiFilm FinePix that they'll be able to use for several years. This one is dust proof, waterproof up to 82 feet, shockproof to almost 6 feet, and even freeze proof to -14 degrees Fahrenheit (for those kids who want to take it skiing or sledding). It comes with a 5x zoom lens, video recording capability, and WiFi, which makes downloading images foolproof. And if your kiddo is absent-minded when it comes to charging, they'll appreciate the fairly long battery life, which will allow them to shoot up to 240 images before needing more juice. For color options, kids can choose between two eye-popping shades: Sky blue or bright yellow.