These days, kids are more likely to first experience computing and gaming on a tablet than a home computer. To that end, our tablet selection skews a little younger.
Everything on this list is rated 3+, according to Google, and should be safe for even very young children. However, Apple rates most of these games with a more conservative 4+, except for Super Stickman Golf and Spaceteam, which are 9+. The games are all simple to control, easy to get into, and fun to play.
A note on IAPs and ads: Free games need to make money somehow. There are several games listed here that do indeed offer in-app purchases (IAPs) for in-game currency, and some feature ads instead. In the former case, you can disable IAPs at a system level on your device before handing it over to a kid. With the latter, you should play the game yourself first to make sure the ads are OK.
1. Sago Mini Friends
Sago Mini Friends is a pleasant little set of mini games that encourages dexterity, puzzle-solving and creativity. It starts with you selecting a colorful character, who then explores a neighborhood of cartoon houses.
Knock on a door, and you’ll be invited inside for an animated, entertaining playdate. This may involve hammering nails into a birdhouse, dress-up or even enjoying a tasty snack.
Everything’s bright and cheerful, and the game promotes empathy, with one friend looking glum if spoils aren’t evenly shared.
2. Lego Creator Islands
In all honesty, we’re sure most parents would be happier seeing kids playing with real Lego rather than virtual bricks on a tablet. But when the real thing isn’t an option, this official game’s a nice substitute.
It’s based around the titular islands, on which you collect bricks, to ‘buy’ Lego sets that are constructed with a few taps. Over time, you’ll accrue houses and vehicles, and cute blocky critters that roam about. As an added bonus, there’s no chance of painfully stepping on a plastic brick.
3. Toca Kitchen 2
If your child regularly uses a tablet, you’ve likely already installed some Toca Boca games. They’re a smart mix of education and play, and Toca Kitchen 2 is no exception.
As the name suggests, Toca Kitchen 2 is all about cooking. This game will invite you to create meals – however your imagination allows. Invent your own recipes and foist your creations on a colorful cast o f characters, whether you’ve carefully constructed a burger, or just threw a watermelon in the microwave and covered it in sauce.