Posted by Jim Martin 17 December 2013
The 9 best tech gifts for kids: toys and presents for 3-11s this Christmas 2013
Why was the computer so tired? Because it had a hard drive. Ok, so enough of the poor cracker jokes (thanks for that one, Morrisons). You’re already running out of time to buy Christmas presents for your kids. Thankfully we’re on hand to offer some last-minute ideas for kids that love tech.
Possibly the hottest thing for Christmas 2013 is the new high-tech Furby Boom with its LCD eyes and companion iOS app. It’s hardly a snip at £50, but it’s a lot cheaper than buying you child an iPad Air.
In fact, kids’ tablets are becoming more and more popular: V-Tech’s InnoTab range and Leapfrog’s LeapPad are tablets made exclusively for little ones.
Alternatively, you could buy a ‘proper’ tablet and a kid-friendly case. There are plenty of iPad options, but it isn’t easy to make the iPad itself child friendly. A better option is to go for a kids’ Android tablet such as the Nabi 2, or a Kindle Fire HD with the new FreeTime feature. That way they can grow into using it with fewer restrictions as they get older.
Best tech toys for kids this Christmas (3+)
1. Toca Hair Salon 2, £2
If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device (including the Kindle Fire HD below), this will be the best couple of pounds you’ve ever spent on an app. Kids love cutting, shaving, colouring and washing hair in this brilliant app. Once they’re bored of styling hair, they can accessorise customers with glasses, hats, hair clips and more. Then they’ll fill up your smartphone’s memory by repeatedly taking photos of the finished design.
2. Ubooly Plush Learning Toy, £25
This £25 teddy is made smart when you insert your iPhone or iPod touch. With the free app installed, the phone’s display becomes an animated face that should amuse your child when you need some peace and quiet.
The Ubooly encourages kids to get up and move around, and you’ll even get a progress report detailing what they’ve learnt.
3. VTech InnoTab 3, £70
Loaded with age-appropriate apps, games, read-along audiobooks and learning material, the InnoTab 3 is something of a bargain if you can snap one up for £35. We’ve seen these in Early Learning Centre and Mothercare at this price, and you can buy it online as well.
The top-mounted camera rotates to face forwards or backwards and although photos aren’t great, it’s fun for kids to use. They can also paint and draw with their finders using the Art Studio app.
Best tech toys for kids this Christmas (6+)
4. Griffin Kazoo MyPhones, £20
Headphones are an essential accessory if your child has access to an iPod, smartphone or tablet, mainly to prevent those annoying musical scores in kids’ apps from driving you mad. You can choose between fun frog or penguin versions, and the volume-limiting feature protects their ears even if they turn it up to the max.
5. Furby Boom, £49
Remember Christmas 1998? Probably not, unless you were giving or receiving a Furby. Around 40 million of the robotic talking toys have been sold, and now the Furby has been brought bang up to date.
It now works with an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad app so you can now tell your Furby its name as well as washing it, feeding it, and hatching baby Furbies (all virtually, of course). See also: When Siri met Furby
6. LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra, £120
It isn’t cheap, but the LeapPad Ultra is one of the best kids’ tablets around. The big 7in screen is decent and the tablet has a stylus for drawing as well. The closed environment is safe, even for web browsing and the bundled apps offer hours of playtime. See also our full LeapPad Ultra review
Best tech toys for kids this Christmas (9+)
7. AppToyz AppQuiz, £25
With the caveat that this game requires an iPad, it’s a great stocking filler. You download the free app and then up to four players can compete to be the first to buzz in and answer questions. There are mini games and additional quiz packs when you’ve used up the 100s of questions included with the free game.
8. Lego Batman Arkham Asylum, £129
This set should keep little Johnny quiet while your Christmas lunch goes down. You get eight minifigures with assorted weapons, a security van and Arkham Asylum. It’s rated for ages 12+, but we reckon a nine-year-old could easily put this together without distracting you from the Queen’s speech.
9. Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013), £119
With its new FreeTime feature, the Fire HD is an ideal kids’ tablet. You can restrict which apps are accessible, as well as which books and games. Better still, you can set individual time limits which restrict how much reading and gaming time your child can have each day. Plus, you can also borrow their tablet when they’re asleep and read Kindle books, check your email and browse the web.