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 to code.
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 and tempt them outside and away from the PlayStation... and what parent wouldn't want that?
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 2023
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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 its 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.
Read our full Ryze Tello review for more details
Strictly speaking, this updated version of the DJI Mini SE 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. Because the camera has mechanical stabilization, the footage looks good too so long as you avoid pixel-peeping. At least as good as most phone cameras.
If you’re buying this, you’re buying a serious flying camera – a very serious gift. It can even capture orbiting selfies so you might be boosting social media too. The previous edition has been discontinued, but the only significant change is the replacement of the older controller with one of DJI's newer designs which is more robust and has a stronger signal, so no complaints there.
Read our guide to DJI Mini SE vs Mini 2 for more details
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), the 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.
Read our full Holyton HS330 review for more details
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 mean that not only are you free from having to register the drone with aviation authorities, but it's also super easy to transport.
Despite the low cost, you also get a controller, four spare propellers, two guards, two USB chargers, and three drone batteries. This will give your kids the complete package needed to enjoy racing their drones. So while there's no camera (as you'd expect at this price), you really can't go wrong.
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 of 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.
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 use Python and Swift programming 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.
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 arguably 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.
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 sports options. There's also an altitude-hold function. And you get a 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.
What is the right age to have a drone?
We'd say that, when you're looking at small toys under 50g, like some of those on this list, then with a bit of supervision (and patience) a child as young as four can have a go, while about age 8 they should be able to keep one of their own.
If you looking to go for a larger drone that needs to be registered, then the operator needs to be old enough to sign and understand the registration – in the USA, in FAA territories, that is 13.
In the UK, the CAA requires a parent or guardian to register on behalf of a child under 13.
How We Test Drones
Our drone expert Adam Juniper has been flying drones for a decade now, and is the author of The Drone Pilot's Handbook, a book specifically designed to introduce the drone hobby to younger adopters. He knows the features and tech to look for to ensure a good time, as well as the real life experiences and that knowledge is the basis of this list. He also reviews and tests many of the drones in the best camera drones list.