Buying the best drone for kids isn't just about getting into their good books and keeping them quiet. Drones are something you should want your children to play with, as they'll teach them valuable skills.
Drones can be useful in STEM learning: racing and stunt pilots usually get into self-building, which encourages understanding of electronics, and computer skills. Furthermore, some drones provide a great way to learn coding.
So whether your kid is a budding photographer or YouTuber who wants some aerial imagery, or they're just seeking the adrenaline rush of racing against others, drones offer a new way to play tempt them outside and away from the PlayStation... and what parent wouldn't want that?
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So what's the best drone for kids on the market today? Below, we've put together a guide to help you find the best drone for you and your family.
Here, you'll find drones for different ages and budgets. We'll explain the differences between them, and share the facts and figures you need to choose the right option.
The best drones for kids in 2022(opens in new tab)
Compact and robust, this drone has an in-built pressure sensor that's capable of hovering without the operator’s help and flying using the pilot-friendly 'headless' mode. In practice, that means the drone can be moved around a room using a single control stick, which is easier than most video games. If you do crash, there are good solid prop guards.
On the downside, the attempt to protect the battery with a flap is tidy but fiddly. And don’t be fooled by the claims of 16 minutes' flight time: this is just a doubling of the (optimistic) eight-minute time for one battery since there are two in the box. Nevertheless, that's still a decent flight time, and overall we reckon this is the best drone for kids getting started with remote-control flying.(opens in new tab)
If you're looking for a super low-cost option, check out this quadcopter, which features altitude hold and three different speed modes. With protection guards, a headless mode, and the ability to do an 'Emergency Stop', this drone is designed to be as user-friendly as possible. And that should help pilots of any age and ability to have fun flying it.
The Holyton HT02 comes with three batteries, which should offer up to 24 minutes of flight time. Plus, its lightweight and compact build means that not only are you free from having to register the drone with aviation authorities, it's also super easy to transport.
Despite the low cost, you also get a controller, four spare propellors, two guards, two USB chargers and three drone batteries. This will give your kids the complete package needed to enjoy racing their drone. So while there's no camera (as you'd expect at this price), you really can't go wrong.(opens in new tab)
Taking a mix of inspiration from the pro brands and the other toys, this drone offers the almost expected 3D flips and headless mode. But thanks to the addition of five sensors (front/back/left/right/bottom) it can also be directed by wafting a hand near the hovering drone; it’ll immediately back off. This also has an obvious safety bonus, though it should also be noted that the propellor guards are better than on many drones in this list.
Other features that make this an appealing choice are the circle mode (the drone will make small circles), choice of three speed modes, and the design of the batteries which are much easier to insert and remove without putting stress on delicate cables or lithium battery cells than some other compact drones.(opens in new tab)
The Tello shares a lot of tech with Ryze’s parent company, DJI, which is great news when it comes to quality and smarts. The camera is built into the body offering five-megapixel stills or 720P video – this is as good quality as it gets in the toy market. As well as the standard version, watch out for an Iron-Man branded Tello, and Edu(cational) flavor too (see below).
Naturally, there is the full range of flips and tricks to impress friends, plus 'EZ' video shots, but where it really excels is educational value. That even includes compatibility with Scratch – a block-based visual programming system so computer enthusiasts can learn programming on a phone or tablet in the most fun way possible. This coding capability makes the Ryze a popular choice with STEM educators.
While the robust airframe hasn’t seen an update since 2018, there have been several software updates keeping the app fresh. Other firms have written alternatives, available in phone app stores, which add functions like panoramic photography and FPV flight. For more information, see our full Ryze Tello review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
This is the best drone if you want to learn coding as well as flying, as you play with your quadcopter. This has the same specifications as the Ryze Tello and the Ryze Tello Iron Man – but this version allows you to program with commands using multiple languages.
The original Ryze Tello (number 4 on our list) will allow you to program Scratch and DroneBlocks – but this EDU version also lets you us Python and Swift programing languages; that's great for would-be coders. If you know others with the same drone, you can even program Tello EDUs to move in a swarm, and put on synchronized aerobatic displays.
Another benefit of the EDU is that it comes with Mission Pads: patterned cards that the drone can be programmed to recognize with its onboard camera, and then perform a precoded maneuver.(opens in new tab)
Strictly speaking, this updated version of the DJI Mavic Mini (opens in new tab) isn’t a toy. It is, though, a sub-250g drone, so just under the weight which is a cut off for registration in the USA and China, and a tier in the EU and UK.
Frankly, it’s a brilliant job. For older kids with smartphones (or adults who haven’t quite grown up), it has the same basic components and flight time as pricier pro drones. It can also record 2.7K video and 4000 x 3000 pixel JPEGs to a MicroSD card (opens in new tab). And since the lens is stabilized, the results are streets ahead of other toys.
If you’re buying this, you’re buying a real flying camera as a serious gift. It can even capture automated flights for orbiting video selfies so you might be giving your child's social media a boost too. You can also equip it with all kinds of extra features. For more details, read our guide toDJI Mini SE vs Mini 2 (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
For what is, compared to other FPV gear, not a very big investment, you can get everything you need to get flying: goggles, a controller and the drone. It might lack a few of the features that devoted FPV hobbyists insist are essential but this isn’t for them. For older kids (or dads) who've been lusting after the excitement of putting goggles on and remotely piloting their own micro drone, though, it's perfect.
Key functionality is there too. For example, the remote can also be used with a computer to play drone sims while the battery is charging. And don’t tell your kids, but some aspects are arguable better than enthusiast gear. For instance, the tiny drone can’t do too much harm when it crashes and, unlike most FPV drones, has a hover sensor built in too.(opens in new tab)
This is a very compact drone, folding to just 89mm (3.5in) long, and weighing 200g, well under the 250g limit for registration, so you can feel comfortable that this is a toy. (Another clue no kid will complain about is the 360-degree flip button).
Despite that, the machine emulates the design of the larger counterparts with some nice touches. It offers three flight speeds, reminiscent of the DJI drone’s cine, normal, and sport options. There's also altitude-hold function. And you get headless flight, which many beginners prefer (it’s easier if you’re not looking at a monitor).
The addition of a 1080P camera is a real bonus compared to others in this category though; you can take noticeably better looking footage. Well, within reason; it’s still not a stabilized camera. The limitation, as always for this kind of system, is the approximately 43m (140ft) that Wi-Fi radio control will effectively reach.
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