Drones are all the rage and it’s no wonder they are one of the most requested kids toys today. On TV, in the park or even their friends are flying, either way they are hard to miss. Drones can be an engaging toy that allows children to develop their motor skills as well as learn in a STEM enviroment about physics, robotics, electronics and mechanics.
Most parents will appreciate the fact their kids are playing outside as drones are a excellent electronic game alliterative. So what makes these little flying copters so appealing?
With nano technology increasing at rapid rates and the ability to pack un thinkable computing power in tiny devices, drones have evolved exponentially. Powerful computer processors and a host of on-board sensors allow these flying robots to basically fly themselves. This enables flyers with very little skill to get airborne in minutes with little to no learning curve.
Any young child would be thrilled with one of these amazing flying copters. However not all drones are suitable for children. Some require a steep learning curve or are very susceptible to damage. Also, some have powerful motors and large propellers that can cause serious harm if not operated in a safe manner.
For kids starting out we recommend nano sized drones or small drones with propeller protection. Most of our best kids drone suggestions below have included propeller guards. As stated above larger drones have powerful motors and sharp propellers that can cause serious injury. It’s is advised that all drone flights are accompanied by an adult or responsible spotter.
Generally drones larger than a nano size may also fall under current regulations restricting flight in certain areas. Visit our drone safety and 101 pages for more information. Also local aviation authority sites such as FAA and Transport Canada are a good resource for the latest regulations in your area.
The more advanced drones with autonomous features such as position hold, altitude hold, GPS, proximity sensors, although higher priced will be easier to operate than the basic toy grade quadcopter. If you budget allows we recommend buying a copter with either altitude hold, position hold, IOC (Orientation Control), GPS position hold or even better all the above.
There are new drones hitting the market at a constant rate. We have compiled a well researched list of the very best drones we would buy our own kids. The following list of current drones is in no particular order but identifies the current top contenders and their features outlining our recommended drones for kids.
15 used from $422.40
- Intelligent Flight ModesSmart, reliable, and incredibly intuitiveQuickShotVideos with a Tap
- High-Performance CameraAmazing images and stabilized videoMechanical Gimbal StabilizationShake-Free Shots
- Flight PerformanceAwesome potential, immersive experiencesPowerful Propulsion Speed and Precision Control
- Flight SafetyWorry-free flight in the palm of your hand ; Propeller guards are recommended when using these functions.
Spark is a unique drone that offers most of DJI’s famous technologies all in a small package and low price. Although this drone may be priced higher than cheep starter drones it’s by far one of the best for kids. Spark offers amazingly simple control that any beginner flyers will enjoy. But unlike others the DJI spark has more advanced features to grow into. This could make Spark excellent value considering there is no need to advance to another drone.
DJI Spark is groundbreaking in that such a small drone can encompass many of the features (GPS, front obstacle avoidance, brushless gimbal, 1080P HD camera) only found in high priced, larger systems. Spark does not come with propeller guards but are available on DJI’s store, and we would highly recommend purchasing a set for young flyers. If you budget allows for it ,DJI Spark is worth a close look.
PARROT BEBOP 2
3 used from $289.99
- Enhanced 14 megapixel fish-eye lens offers 1080p video recording and stunning image capture
- 25 minutes of flight time thanks to a powerful 2700 mAh battery
- Equipped with powerful motors for flight in greater altitudes
- Powerful rear flash LED for better visibility-even in the dark
- Requires registration with FAA. Visit their website for more info on how to register.
Parrot’s products are usually top of our list as they offer great quality and value. Although the bebop 2 may not be the cheapest beginner drones we think it’s one of the best. You can get far cheaper drones but if you want something that will last the bebop 2 is worth a look. The Bebop features a 14mp camera as well as 1080P HD video recording. With up to 25min of flight time this little drone may be best in class for endurance.
The Bebop also has some integrated smart functions such as object tracking, follow me and GPS modes. If your budget allows for it you can get this drone in a FPV version. This includes a long range radio controller named Skycontroller2 as well as FPV goggles. The bebop is a great starter drone and fun for the whole family.
1 used from $108.50
- Learn about drones, shoot video and easily perform impressive tricks with this lightweight Ryze Tello drone
- The 5-megapixel camera records JPEG photos and 720p MP4 video, and the Tello flies up to 10m vertically and up to 100m away
- This Ryze Tello drone operates up to 13 minutes per charge
- DJI flight tech - High-quality components ensure stable flights
- VR headset compatibility - Fly with a breathtaking first-person view
Control Tello right from your smart phone with ease! Or add the optional game inspired controller for traditional RC control. This feature packed drone offers everything you would want with a kids drone. Through and go, 8D flips, bounce mode and more. Additionally tello can be connected to compatible FPV goggles for first person flighting experience. Remember to purchase optional propeller guards for added safety.
- Dual Flight mode (Quad/Plane): designed for aerial acrobatics and high-speed racing with friends
- Achieve speeds of up to 19mph in plane mode
- Increase piloting range with the included Parrot Flypad (works with or without a smartphone)
- Unique X shape provides you with a two drones in one experience
- OS compatibility: iOS 7 and up / Android 4.4 and up
Parrot’s swing makes it’s way to the top as there is nothing like it. Takes off like a quadcopter drone then switches to a plane when put in motion. The Swing will satisfy any kid seeking a fast flying action drone. Set up an obstacle course and race with your friends. The Swing has built in aerobatic functions to effortlessly perform stunts in mid flight.
There is also a boost mode to unleash the Swings full potential. The free apps gives the pilot realtime data such as battery life and estimated flight time remaining. This hybird drone offers great value and functionality. Pick up a Swing for hours or countless fun.
UDI 818A HD+
- Drone comes fully equipped with Full 720p HD Video Recording and Camera with 1280 x 720 resolution (30 Frames per second). Perfect for shooting Video or taking photos
- Headless Mode: Orientation of the Quadcopter in relation to the pilot. Great function when the quadcopter is out of sight. The direction and orientation is dependent on the position of the user. One Key Return Home Function: Avoid lost aircraft and bring drone back with the simple push of a button.
The UDI has been one of the best selling beginner quads to date. With thousands sold on Amazon alone. It’s very attractive price tag would have alot to do with that. Although it’s not just a bargain it also has some great features as well. For beginners the props are inset into the airframe. This adds a level of safety similar to propeller guards. Also makes it more suitable to indoor flight as well. The 818 comes as a kit with all the goodies you need to get in the air.
Although not much a bonus feature anymore the 818 has a built-in FPV system. With a small mounted FPV camera the UDI will send a live feed to the screen in the radio control so the operator can see what the drone sees in real time. This is a great all round starter drone that is also a great trainer for those looking to get into the FPV racing scene.
3 used from $31.43
- Headless/IOC function. Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By using Headless/IOC, the forward direction has nothing to do with nose direction. This lessens the steepness of the learning curve and allows the pilot to enjoy flight while slowly learning each specific orientation of the quadcopter.
- Equipped with the latest 6-axis flight control systems, 3D lock, More scheduled flight, operating more to the force!
Syma X5SW is by far one of the best value and best selling starter drones for a reason. Syma really gives you great value with this quadcopter. There are few drones in this price point that features IOC. IOC is basically an orientation control function. IOC is a very likeable feature for learning how to control a quadcopter in all orientations such as nose in and nose out.
In addition to the Syma’s stable flight characteristics it also features a WiFi FPV system and HD camera. By connecting you smartphone to the X5SW-V3 you can take pictures, videos and see a first person view from the belly mounted camera. Just don’t expect stable high quality footage as this is just a very affordable beginner drone.
4 used from $58.99
- One accessory for each adventure: CANNON (Shoot miniature balls up to 6ft away); GRABBER (Catch, carry and release cargo up to 4g)
- High-tech sensors work to provide optimal stability
- Do fun acrobatics such as flips and barrel rolls
- Control your Mini Drone upto 20m using smartphone and upto 65m uaing parrot flypad controller
The Parrot Mambo is a really fun mini drone full of surprises. After you have mastered basic flight you can perform flips and tricks. The Mambo also has additional attachments to grab small objects (up to 4grams) as well as shoot small plastic balls. The Mambo is controlled by a smartphone or Parrots flypad controller.
AR DRONE 2.0
3 used from $67.50
- Piloting is easy from a smartphone or tablet
- Remote control quadricopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet
- 720p high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying
- Record & share videos & pictures straight from AR. Free Flight piloting app
- Processor: ARM Cortex A8 processor 1GHz 32 bit with 800MHz video DSP TMS320DMC64x, RAM: 1GB DDR2 RAM at 200MHz, OS: Linux 2.6.32
When we think of Parrot we think of the AR Drone. One on the first hobby drones to pioneer the industry. Although the AR drone is priced higher than many toy drones the GPS version has some advanced features that are found in higher end camera drones. Position hold and return home will help new pilots build confidence in flying. The AR Drone 2.0 now comes in 3 version.
The Power, GPS and Elite editions. AR Drone has a removable outer guard made of foam for added safety and crash protection. The AR drones also include a built in camera for on-board video recording in 720p. The AR drone is a good choice for a kids drone with a built in camera.
Pre-Purchase points to consider when buying a kids drone
How easy is the drone to fly and how is it controlled?
Many cheep toy grade drones have very primitive sensors and flight control electronics. Although they may fly reasonably stable indoors, they can get away on you pretty fast. Most drones now ship with a minimum of headless mode and sonic or optical position hold. These basic functions will help the copter maintain position while the operator learns the control. Headless or orientation can help aid in controlling the drone weather its nose in or nose out. This simplifies the RC control and reduces the risk of pilot error when learning. More advanced drones will hold position via. GPS and can even fly back home with the touch of a button.
Is the Drone safe and does it have propeller protection?
This in our opinion is a important factor when considering any kind drone for kids. Fast, sharp moving propellers can cause serious harm. Many smaller drones can even cause minor injuries. It’s a good idea to verify the kit you are ordering comes with propeller guards. Some drones have the propellers encased in the airframe and do not require such additional protection.
Can the drone take a few crash landings?
Many small drones are pretty durable given their ultra light weight. Slightly larger drones however can be a total loss if crashed as their components are integral of the airframe. This is the downside to purchasing a more expensive drone for kids as they are likely to have a few hard landings. It’s always good to see if the model of aircraft has spare parts available. Propellers are usually the first component to get damaged.
What is a good value drone for the money?
Many times you get what you pay for. This holds true with drones as well. By spending a little more you can expect high quality components and added features. Also the higher end drones can be easier to operate and more stable in flight. Big brands such as DJI tend to be on the higher end.
RC Control or Tablet Control?
Some drones are controlled from a smart phone while others have a dedicated radio controller. Some even offer both or a hibird system where the RC controls the craft and the smart device controls the functions such as camera controls and navigation. For kids the RC controlled versions may be best as it’s one less component required to oporate. However many kids now have tablets and smartphone.
GPS and follow me functions?
GPS enabled functions usually come with the higher priced systems. These functions are not just for fun. The GPS aids is stabilization and acts as a failsafe. If one was to loose control of their craft it can be sent home via the touch of a button. Using satellite navigation it will navigate its way back to the operator and land safely. In windy conditions the drone can hold it’s position with out drifting away. Something a non GPS drone would have a hard time doing.
Do you really need a camera?
Cameras are not necessary although is adds a extra level of enjoyment. Also, with a FPV enabled drone the pilot can see the cameras feed in real time from the ground. Most of the entry level drones with cameras use low quality imaging devices. So don’t expect great quality aerial video from these models.