We’ve finally found the perfect kids tablet experience for our family: Introducing Google Kids Space
Our devices and apps have evolved a lot in the last decade. I’m sure I could dig in my blog archives for the toddler apps I was downloading for Jayda when she was 2-years-old. Now I have three kids with different interests and multiple needs and devices are not cheap!
We’ve tried just about every tablet experience over the years. I’ve passed down my old iPads and tried personalizing the apps on it for my kids, only to find the software soon being outdated. We can’t afford to replace those every year. And when they break it’s a huge pain, and usually not worth it to get them fixed.
If you’ve been here awhile you know we like the Family Link app from Google to set screen and app time limits. Screen limits aren’t something I’m doing TO them, but something I do WITH them to set healthy boundaries.
I’d all but given up on personal devices for my kids right now (aside from their Chromebooks for homeschool) because it was hard trying to find the right thing for our family. But then Google launched Google Kids Space*. It’s a kid-friendly interface on select Android tablets that was exactly what I was looking for. Let me break down why this is great for us and share some real-life moments where I’ve snuck some pictures of the kids using Google Kids Space right next to me.
1. The compatible tablets are inexpensive.
Google Kids Space is only available on select tablets right now – it’s not an app you can install on any tablet, but it’s a kids mode that comes on select Android tablets. You can get the onn. tablets at Walmart for as low as $59. See a full list of compatible devices (with more coming soon, here).
2. Kid-friendly interface
This is probably my favorite part about Kids Space. Though my kids can sometimes clunk their way around apps on my phone, this interface was made just for them. I loved it so much that I actually set one up for Lee Lee (who is now 3). She can easily spot her favorite apps and navigate to books, or learning games on the Home tab. There are tabs for “Home” “Play” “Read” “Watch” and “Make.” The Home, Play, and Read ones are our favorites.
3. Tons of teacher-approved apps and handpicked books
One of my biggest hangups with device time is feeling like they’re getting quality entertainment. That’s why one of my favorite features is that all of the apps and games have been reviewed by children’s education and media specialists so that the options are age-appropriate, thoughtfully designed, and engaging. While they’re teacher-approved, they are mom-approved here too (probably an even trickier standard).
In the Read tab kids also have access to free books that were selected by experts. You can also add more books to the child’s library from Google Play Books. We like that many of the books have audio options that read the stories aloud with the words highlighting as they go. Ty was so excited to see some animal face-off books such as “Gorilla vs Orangutan.”
When you first set up Kids Space the kids get to build their own avatar. Jayda took great pleasure in helping each of her siblings make theirs look just like them, or at least how they see themselves, which is what’s most important to me. The characters were designed with imagination, inclusion, and diversity in mind with over 1,000 options to choose from to make it their own. Lee Lee of course has her signature pigtails and a princess tutu.
But beyond their avatars, each of their Home tabs are personalized to their interests. Ty’s tablet has math, science and animal apps and books. As a parent, I’m able to manage certain aspects of the experience. For Ty, I let him watch the YouTube Kids videos recommended on the Watch tab that were recommended based on his selected interests (he loves the videos about animals).
I didn’t enable Lee Lee’s device to have YouTube Kids but I did install PBS Kids so she can watch some of her favorites. We also have scrolled through the suggested apps together and added some that stood out to her. Some of her favorites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar app, Endless Alphabet, and Khan Academy Kids.
Tip: When you’re browsing apps you can easily see right away if there are ads or in-app purchases. That makes it easier for me to quickly decide if I want to give it a download or not. You can also set up app approval parameters through Family Link parental controls from Google.
Every kid is their own person and I love that each of their tablets are tailored to them. From the content and their interests to the time limits we create in the Family Link app.
5. Parental Controls
An important note is that Google Space Kids requires a Google account for your child managed with Family Link parental controls. Like I said, we have been using the Family Link app for years and like that it allows you to remotely supervise device usage and set screen time limits together.
So that’s where I’m at. My kids finally have a tablet they love and I approve of. And if you’re searching for one to try I highly recommend considering one with Google Kids Space. You can find compatible devices here.
*Kids Space requires a Google Account for your child. Parental controls require the Family Link app on a supported Android, Chromebook, or iOS device. Books and video content not available in all regions. Video content subject to availability of YouTube Kids app. Books content requires the Play Books app. Availability of apps, books, and video content may change without notice. Google Assistant not available in Kids Space.