Today’s drones offer more hands-on fun than your kid’s favorite video game. Advances in quadcopter technology have made these flying gadgets safer and much easier to control. In fact, most are flight-ready in mere minutes. Plus, drones designed for kids provide extra layers of protection to prevent curious fingers from interacting with angry propellers. A drone with camera and phone apps turns the so-called toy into a full-blown, high-tech, multifunctional gadget. Whether your kid is a photography or aviation enthusiast or you simply want a fun excuse to take the family outside, the best drones are an easy and exciting way to explore nature and fly the friendly skies from the safety of solid ground. Here are our recommendations:
— Best Overall: ATTOP Mini Drone with Camera Drones
— Best Budget: Magic Flying Ball
—Best for Young Kids: Force1 Scoot Hand Operated Drone for Kids
— Best Mini Drone: Force1 UFO 4000 Mini Drone for Kids
— Best for Big Kids: Ryze Tech Tello - Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
How We Picked the Best Drones for Kids
When looking for the best drones to get kids excited about flight, we evaluated a variety of options. First, we considered options for different ages of kids. Then we looked for safety and durability in these flying devices. We researched the ease of the controls and compared the fun or sophistication of the design. Then for older kids, we weighed the quality of the cameras and each drone's flight time. Finally, we considered cost and value.
Related: Show your kids how to record their adventures with the best GoPro cameras.
The Best Drones for Kids
Ready to let your kids explore the clouds? Choose a drone that is age-appropriate and made of strong materials. Younger children will need more safety features and easier controls. Older kids will appreciate cameras and more responsive controllers. And no matter what drone you pick for your kid, don’t spend too much. These are entry-level products, not professional racing drones.
Best Overall: ATTOP Mini Drone with Camera Drones
Why It Made the Cut: Older kids will appreciate that this mini drone is pocket-sized and voice-controlled—the perfect tool for future spies.
— Dimensions: 2.5(L) x 2 (W) x 1(H) inches
— Weight: 12.6 ounces
— Power: 1 AAA battery
— Ages: 14 and up
— Easy to use
— Comes with voice control
— Short flight time
The tiny 2.5-inch by 2-inch by 1-inch mini drone by ATTOP packs a lot into a small package. The controls are simple, with headless steering and altitude hold. It can even do 360-degree flips, but your success rate may not be 100 percent. Flight time averages about five minutes on a full charge, and a full charge takes at least 30 minutes. It works with the smartphone app, where you can plan flight paths on screen. This device performs well enough for a kid-friendly drone, and even adults will have fun plotting courses. The mini drone has a first-person camera that sends photos and live shots to your phone. This is a fun mini drone for kids over the age of 14, but the tiny quadcopter is too small and delicate for younger kids.
Best Budget: Magic Flying Ball
Why It Made the Cut: Small kids can get started flying with this simple and inexpensive device that works indoors and outside.
— Dimensions: 7.17 (L) x 6.42 (W) x 2.05 (H) inches
— Weight: 3.2 ounces
— Power: 1 Lithium battery (included)
— Ages: 3 and up
— Easy to use
— Short battery life
— Not durable
You can’t expect a lot from a cheap drone, but the Magic Flying Ball is simple, it’s bright, and it works. The ball hovers in the air, and you and the kids can use hand controls to maneuver it around a room or backyard. The remote button lands the drone. The battery life isn’t great, but for 5 minutes of playtime, kids will enjoy the bright drone. Charging takes about 30 minutes. For ten bucks, this isn’t a fully functioning drone—it’s a goofy, safe novelty. But it will make you and your kids smile. It’s perfect for kids over the age of 3.
Best for Young Kids: Force1 Scoot Hand Operated Drone for Kids
Why It Made the Cut: This device resembles a UFO and doesn’t require controls to fly, so it’s great for young kids.
— Dimensions: 4.3 (L) x 4.3 (W) x 0.3 (H) inches
— Weight: 1.09 ounces
— Power: Lithium battery (included)
—Ages: 8 and up
— No controller
— Easy to use
— Short flight time
Nobody would mistake the Force1 Scoot Hand Operated Drone for a professional drone, but it’s still more fun than we expected. There is no controller. Simply turn it on, toss it in the air, and use your hands to move the copter around the room. For the price, it works surprisingly well. The battery only allows for a few short minutes of flight time, but kids will love the simple design. If they can have fun batting a balloon around the room, they’ll have even more fun with this simple flying toy. It’s safe to grab in mid-flight, and kids as young as 4 years old can safely handle it.
Best Mini Drone: Force1 UFO 4000 Mini Drone for Kids
Why It Made the Cut: Future aviators will appreciate how this drone lights up the night, flies at two different speeds. and comes with a spare battery.
— Dimensions: 5.5 (L) x 5.5 (W) x 1.2 (H) inches
— Weight: 15.5 ounces
— Power: 2 Lithium ion batteries
— Ages: 14 and up
— Professional quality
— Comes with LED lights
— Two speeds
— Short flight time
The Force1 UFO 4000 mini drone is a bright entry into the kid-friendly market. The LED lights make this quadcopter ignite the night, or a dark room, with a rainbow of colors. While the battery only lasts 9 minutes, and needs nearly 90 minutes to fully charge, this drone does come with a spare battery to help keep the fun going. The best thing about the Force1 drone is the easy controls. The headless steering and hover mode are perfect for those learning the ropes of quadrotor flight. The recommended age is 14 and up, but even younger kids who are well-supervised can have fun with this light-up drone.
Best for Big Kids: Ryze Tech Tello - Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
Why It Made the Cut: If your kid (or you) are serious about flight, this drone takes high-quality video, you can control it with an app, and it flies for 13 minutes at a time.
— Dimensions: 3.86 (L) x 3.66 (W) x 1.61 (H) inches
— Weight: 2.82 ounces
— Power: 1 Lithium polymer battery (included)
— Ages: Older kids
— Shoots HD 720p video
— Comes with 4 propellers
— Longer flight time
— Too lightweight
— WiFi can be spotty
If a kid wants an HD camera drone that looks and feels more mature than the bulky toy drones on the market, the Ryze Telo is the best option. The mini drone gets 13 minutes of flight time on a full charge. Plus, the HD 5MP camera captures the best video at this price point. It has a range of 100 feet, but you may lose connectivity when trying to max out altitude. It can reach speeds of 17 mph on a windless day, and at just under 3 ounces, this is a lightweight mini drone, so any breeze stronger than 5 mph will cause a turbulent flight. The smartphone app works well, and there are third-party apps that can be used for face tracking and other drone tricks. Any drone novice with dreams of becoming a drone pro will love the grown-up handling, multiple features, and aesthetics of the Ryze Tello quadcopter.
The world of remote-controlled quadcopters may seem confusing, but understanding a few key elements of these flying machines will ensure you’re giving your kid the best of the bunch. Before you buy, know what to look for and what to avoid.
What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Drones for Kids
FAA Rules and Regulations
To keep the skies friendly and safe, you’ll need to adhere to the FAA regulations regarding drones, a.k.a. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The FAA website outlines the areas where drones are not allowed. Basically, you can’t fly them near airports or stadiums, in a wildfire, or anywhere in Washington, D.C., unless you don’t mind citations and visits from scary federal agents. You also need to keep them below 400 feet, but drones for kids aren’t made to fly that high so it’s not much of an issue.
Besides government regulations, also keep an eye on the age range listed in the specs. Not all drones are good for kids. But it can be hard to tell just by looking at the aircraft if it falls into the appropriate age range. Even some brightly colored, friendly-looking drones could be dangerous for inexperienced users under the age of 14. Always read and follow the instructions, and encourage your kids to do the same.
The best drones for kids will have a battery that provides enough power to last at least five minutes of flight time. The rechargeable batteries on these drones work well enough, but even the most efficient battery will struggle to push the propellers past the 10-minute mark. Be ready to plug in and charge up the drone on a regular basis. And stocking up on at least one spare battery is a good idea. (Also, the remote control will usually run on additional AA or AAA batteries that usually aren’t included in the package.)
Drones for kids won’t reach heights above 300 feet, which is still plenty of elevation to experience “wow” moments of flight. Most kid-friendly drones only have a range of about 100 feet, and some can barely fly beyond 50 feet away from the controller. There are even indoor drones made to soar only a few feet off the ground. Look at the specs to know if the drone is overpowered or underpowered for your kid.
One of the best features of a drone is a camera. Drones for kids may come with an HD camera that sends a signal to a smartphone app. The cameras in these mini quadcopters are pretty good, but quality will vary based on price. Cheap drones with cameras won’t provide stunning HD imagery worthy of a Christopher Nolan film, but they can still be fun toys. For older kids, look for a higher-quality drone with a 5MP camera. It will cost more, but the increased image quality is worth it, especially for teens.
Most mini drones are too small to support your own GoPro or other tiny camera. When shopping for a camera drone for kids, it’s best if the camera is built-in to the body.
Controlling a drone is not as intuitive as you, or your child, may think. Moving up and down is simple enough, but moving forward and backward and making turns requires some practice, even with drones for kids. To simplify things, many drones for kids offer headless steering. This means the front-rear orientation of the drone won’t matter—if you want to bank to the left, press to the left and the drone will figure out what you’re trying to do regardless of which way its “head” is facing.
And look for altitude stabilization for easier flying. This will put the drone in hover mode so you can wrap your brain around your next maneuver. This feature is also a huge plus for taking photos and recording mid-air video.
No matter what drone you choose for the family, give everyone time to practice and don’t expect to perform tight, Millennium Falcon turns and flips on the first flight.
Drones can also get lost easily and can crash down into hard-to-reach areas like roofs, trees, or atop the mean old neighbor’s beloved birdhouse. Until you and your kid are comfortable with the drone, only fly it in wide-open areas.
A drone for a young kid should not be expensive. Spending a lot is a bad idea since the drone will probably either get lost, broken, or stuck in a tree. Even robust, hard-headed drones for kids won’t last more than a few months. Thankfully, kids drones are budget-friendly drones.
If you want an HD camera drone, though, the price will go up. These are better for older kids who have the responsible attitude necessary to own and operate delicate electronics. Start small and less expensive. If your kid loves the cheap drone and seems to be taking the hobby seriously, upgrade to a higher-quality model.
Q: How much should you spend on a drone for kids?
You never want to spend too much on a drone for kids. These copters tend to break easily and after a few hard landings into the ground, they may stop functioning properly. The best solution is to aim for inexpensive models. Cheap drones can be just as fun as fancy drones. Drones for kids need to be durable and safe, but there’s no need to spend a lot. Older kids who want a HD camera and other higher end features will get more use out of a more expensive drone, but these products will be harder to handle and lack some safety features of the toy-like kid drones. More expensive options are for adult pilots and aviation enthusiasts who have flown above the entry level of the hobby.
Q: What age is appropriate for a drone?
Most drones are made for kids over the age of 14. These are the quadcopters that lack big, protective cages for the propellers. They also have tighter handling and more control options. Drones for younger kids have propellers well-guarded behind big plastic barriers. And even if someone gets their fingers through the cage, the blades of these drones are made of soft plastic that won’t hurt too badly. If you’re shopping for a child younger than 14, pay attention to the product description. Make sure the controls are easy and the product is safe.
Q: Are drones worth buying?
Yes, drones are worth buying. The technology has come a long way thanks to microcontrollers and quadcopter advancements. These tiny drones are easy to use and fun to play with for hours. Kids of all ages will love seeing the drone take off and pull wild mid-air maneuvers. And the price point on drones has dropped considerably. Some drones for kids are just as affordable as a plastic kite and may last just as long. Plus, operating a drone is a real learning experience. Kids will figure out how flying objects move in 3D space. Not bad for a simple toy that can cost as little as $30.
The Final Word on the Best Drones for Kids
When shopping for a drone for kids, keep in mind that the gadget won’t last very long. These toys will crash and break. And that’s OK. These drones are made to be fun, not to last a lifetime. Stay on budget and look for a model that will be entertaining for at least a few weeks. If a child loves the toy drone, go ahead and upgrade to a more expensive, feature-rich vehicle. Follow the age recommendations, and don’t let young children play with dangerous propellers that lack protective coverings. The best drones for kids should be safe, fun, and at least temporarily functional.
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This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.