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Tech for kids: New Amazon Fire tablet and Echo Dot arrive for parents

Fire HD 10 Kids Edition pairs with parental dashboard, limits screen-on time

Amazon has parents in mind with the news of a child-friendly Fire tablet almost identical to the regular Fire HD 10, but with some unique parental controls.

According to a study by market research specialists Parents Insights, one in five children aged under two can unlock a smart device, and a third can open apps and turn on a device themselves. 63% of parents are wise to a toddler’s tech-savvy tendencies and limit kids’ tablet time to less than half an hour a day, but it stands to reason that anything that would make this sort of thing easier to manage would be welcomed.

Amazon has more tricks up its sleeve, having also unveiled an Echo Dot for kids in the US that has similarly customised features, which could well make its way to our shores.

We take a look at how both of these new gadgets can offer peace of mind, and round up some smartphones, headphones and even fitness trackers aimed at a younger audience.

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Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet Kids Edition: key features

The Fire HD 10 tablet becomes the latest gadget for kids to arrive in the UK, following in the footsteps of other devices including the Fitbit Ace fitness tracker, JVC Tinyphones and Amazon’s smaller Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition.

The £200 Kids Edition tablet comes with a child-proof case (available in blue or pink) designed to survive inevitable bumps and scrapes. Amazon even says it will replace a broken case free of charge.

It has a 10.1-inch Full HD screen, 32GB of storage and ‘up to 10 hours of battery life’, which is more than enough to keep little ones distracted on a long car journey. A year of Amazon’s Fire for Kids Unlimited service is bundled in, which gives you access to thousands of age-appropriate books, videos, educational apps and curated websites.

Above: Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (left), Fire HD 10 (right)

Parents that want to limit the time their child spends on the tablet can use the dashboard app. The Bedtime tool also lets them determine exactly when the tablet shuts off for the day, and when it’s able to power on in the morning.

Although we haven’t tested this child-friendly version of Amazon’s tablet, we have tested the regular Fire HD 10. See how well it dealt with our rigorous lab tests with our Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet review. Alternatively, see our thoughts on the smaller Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition.

Smart home hubs for kids

Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition

Over in the US, Amazon is selling the Echo Dot Kids Edition, a smart speaker with Alexa that you can employ as a ‘kid-friendly DJ, comedian and storyteller’.

A range of unique voice commands and parental controls set this version apart from the regular Echo Dot. It can play age-appropriate music, control compatible smart home devices and play games.

Amazon’s Parent Dashboard app gives you an overview of how the Echo Dot Kids Edition is being used. You can see a breakdown of the time spent on apps, with categories for Books, Videos, Apps and Web.

We’re still waiting for confirmation that this version of the Echo Dot will reach the UK. But considering the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition has already landed, we expect the Echo Dot Kids Edition to follow. In the meantime, see our full range of smart home hub reviews to see which models have topped our tests.

Smartphones for kids

When it comes to buying a smartphone for a child, you’ll need to have a budget in mind. Of course, you don’t need to cough up £1,000 for a brand new iPhone X when a far cheaper alternative can still offer plenty of features.

There are lots of handsets to choose from, but if you’re set on an Apple model we suggest the iPhone SE. You can grab one for around £249, which gets you a 4-inch screen, 32GB of storage and a 12Mp camera. Over on Android, Huawei’s £240 Honor 7x is worth a closer look – it has a 5.93-inch display and dual rear cameras.

If you’re looking for a mobile phone suitable for a child, see our advice on the best smartphones for kids. We’ve picked some handsets that could be a good fit. They’re not necessarily the very best we’ve seen, but they have decent battery life, clear displays and good cameras.

Headphones for kids

JVC Tinyphones

These vibrant headphones from JVC come in a range of bold colours, and stickers bundled in the box give children the chance to customise the headphones to suit their personality.

Although these headphones are lightweight, they’re not particularly small and so might not be well suited to very young children. A built-in volume limiter keeps noise at a safe level.

Want to see how we got on with these headphones? See our JVC Tinyphones first look review. We’ve also had a closer look at the Puro Wireless Kids Headphones.

Fitness trackers for kids

Fitbit Ace

The Fitbit Ace, which rewards an active lifestyle with fun badges and treats, is on sale for around £80.

The fitness tracker, available in Power Purple and Electric Blue, tracks daily steps, active minutes and progress towards fitness goals. It has a water-resistant design and so will survive a rainy day, and on-screen messages encourage kids to stay active all day.

Kids have access to the Fitbit app, but they won’t see the same content that parents do. The parent view inside the Fitbit app will let guardians set up a family account and an individual account for their child for tracking activity and progress.

We had some young testers take the Fitbit Ace for a spin. See our Fitbit Ace first look review for the details.

Garmin Vivofit Jr 2

Garmin’s £60 Vivofit Jr 2 weighs in at just 17.5g, making it nice and lightweight for little wrists.

The tracker comes in various sizes and flaunts some colourful designs themed around Disney, Star Wars and Marvel. It’s water resistant, and Garmin says the battery will last for ‘up to a year’.

Like Amazon’s tablet, the Vivofit Jr 2 partners up with a companion app for parents. From here you can assign and monitor chores, with virtual coins and prizes being sent out for each completed activity. Find out more by heading over to our Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 first look review.

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