Best drones for kids: Find a toy drone that's safe, sturdy, and easy to fly – Mashable

So your kid wants a drone. That’s not surprising: They’ve been a hot holiday gift for a few years running, and more options than ever are explicitly marketed toward the younger set.
Still, there are a lot of drones out there, and it can be hard to tell not only which are actually good, but also which are safe, sturdy, and beginner-friendly enough for children. Your young pilot will probably crash this thing a few times, after all — in a lot of cases (though not all!), a low-cost toy drone is your best bet. (While we appreciate the feature-laden $1500 drones of the world, they’re probably not what your 10-year-old should start with.) When it comes right down to it, the best drones for kids are ones that will be relatively easy to fly and can take a beating.
One of the most important things to consider is whether your kid-friendly drone plays well with the law. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, any recreational unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds must be registered. To help you avoid that step, we’ve made sure to include drones here that weigh less than 0.55 pounds (8.8 ounces) — including the DJI Mavic Mini, which clocks in at a hilarious 0.549. If you must register, though, it’s a pretty easy process. FAA considerations aside, a mini drone also makes for a less-steep learning curve, which makes them a great option for kids.
Also imperative in the drone-buying process: communicating with your child about drone rules and safety. Have questions about where you’re allowed to fly? Check out the website Know Before You Fly (and its companion app B4UFLY), which features an interactive map that helps drone flyers know where they’re permitted to use their aircrafts. For example, drones cannot be flown in US national parks, which is a bummer for photographers but probably good for the sanctity of nature. In the case of camera drones, you’ll also want to chat about respecting others’ privacy. If you’re worried about mishaps, consider opting for a drone without a camera at all.
There are other rules as well, though many of them are just common sense. For instance, you’ll need to keep your drone flying under 400 feet (which should not be an issue for toy drones), ensure it remains in your sight, and avoid airports, large events, and emergency responders.
It’s also possible that your child may need to wait a few years before a drone is appropriate. Even drones intended for kids are geared toward ages eight and up — plus, younger kids may be tempted to put small drone parts in their mouths. On this list, we’ve paid particular attention to ease of operation, though beginner drone users are generally better off mastering their skills indoors before venturing out into the wind.
The above isn’t to sound all doom and gloom. When used correctly, drones can be a fun pastime as well as a valuable learning tool. In fact, several colleges have made them an area of study: A 2018 story in the New York Times highlighted drone courses, research, and — in a few cases — drone degrees at dozens of universities in the United States.
For kids genuinely interested in flying drones as a hobby, the Ryze Tello, which was created in collaboration with Intel and drone powerhouse DJI, is the ideal place to start. In particular, reviewers praise it for its stability: While it can act dicey in wind, the general consensus is that it’s very easy to control, even for beginners. Its camera, while not anything breathtaking in the grand scheme of cameras, captures good 720p video and 5-megapixel photos — far better than any other camera drone on this list. This mini drone also has an impressive flight time of 13 minutes, so kids won’t be forced to stop practicing just as they’re getting the hang of it.
One downside: The Tello drone doesn’t come with a controller. If you want one, you’ll have to buy it separately. However, beginners should get by fine using their smartphones and the Tello app. (Any video you take will stream directly to your device.)
Finally, the Tello is compatible with Scratch, an MIT-developed coding program geared toward kids. This means that kids can plan the Tello’s flight patterns in advance, picking up a little coding knowledge while they play. For parents, that’s a big win.

Getting comfortable flying a drone can be really hard, especially when one fatal error can send your investment catapulting into a tree or zipping off into the ether. That’s where the Syma X5SW-V3 comes in. Reviewers report consistently that it’s great for beginners, particularly because it’s likely to withstand crashes. One Amazon reviewer, for instance, wrote

Should your kid destroy the Syma X5SW-V3, however, it’s not the end of the world. It’s less of an investment than something like the Ryze Tello, but the trade-off is a long charging time, a short flying time, and a less sophisticated camera for video and stills. It’s also bigger and clunkier, but hey, that also means it’s easier to keep track of.

These kid-friendly toy drones come in a rare two-pack, which means — thank goodness — less fighting over whose turn it is to use them. Each phone-sized quadcopter comes with a remote control and is equipped with LED lights, which means you should be able to fly at night. Also included are controllers, three foam rings (for tricks, of course) and a landing platform. If you want a whole setup that requires only one purchase, this is the way to go. If you want gussied-up drones with lots of features, it’s not.
A few reviews mention that the Air Racers‘ controls are a bit touchy, so older kids and teens will likely get the best experience here. It also may be best to master your maneuvers indoors (maybe in the garage, your longest hallway, or the room with the fewest breakables) before taking the drones outside.
Kids as young as eight will have a blast with the trendy AirHogs Supernova, which is controlled entirely through hand motions and a sensor — no controller, no apps, no phone. Intended for close-range stunts rather than racing, it’s capable of 30 “moves,” including nine “super tricks,” which should be plenty to keep kids occupied for a while. (Guides to each move are available on the AirHogs YouTube channel.) And its spherical shell, aside from looking cool, protects hands from the blades and makes the toy easier to handle.
The Supernova’s range is pretty small compared to the other drones on this list, but taking it outside is probably a bad idea anyway. It’ll take a bit of practice to get the hang of hand controls, plus several reviewers say they’ve lost it in an unexpected gust of wind. Inside is where it really shines. Hey, no shame in being an indoor kid.
Is an HD camera — or at the very least, just “a really good camera” — high on your drone specs list? The DJI Mavic Mini is substantially more expensive than the other drones on this list, but if your top priority is a good aerial camera for your budding photographer, it’s hard to find a better value. This tiny guy has a stabilized camera capable of taking 12-megapixel images, which is about the same photo quality as a regular iPhone 11. And its video quality, according to reviewers, is smooth and crisp, particularly if you’re filming footage intended to be viewed on a phone.
Speaking of, the Mavic Mini is about the size of a phone — it fits into the palm of your hand — so it’s easy to pack in a suitcase or bag for a trip. (You’ll still want a case, though, especially if it’ll be jostling around in a car or aboard a plane.)
The other big draw of this DJI drone is its flight time, which is advertised at a whopping 30 minutes. According to reviews, it may not be quite that long — perhaps somewhere between 22 and 25 minutes — but it’s still very good. 
If you’re drone shopping for a kid, the Mavic Mini’s ideal user is probably 12 or older, okay with practicing indoors for a while before venturing outside, and (above all) interested in taking photos and/or video. 
This tiny nano drone packs a big punch for its low price: It’s equipped with one-key return (which means it will return to its controller’s location at the push of a button), 360-degree rollover capability, and headless mode. Reviewers say they appreciate its durability in particular: “There [have] been quite a few hard crashes from about 5 ft height but no damage to the drone yet,” wrote Amazon reviewer Penny. “The top cover did come off once but we just popped it right back in and it was fine.” 
The Eachine E010 is a particularly good drone to learn to fly on inside, as it’s also light enough not to cause much damage. (It weighs a measly 1.76 ounces, which means it’ll likely work best for an indoor kid.) It also comes with a controller, which means you can forgo the extra step of downloading a companion phone app. 
All things considered, the E010 is a fantastic option for kids who might like flying drones but aren’t quite sure (or, you know, for parents who aren’t sure they want their kid to have a drone). If you love it, you can always upgrade.

Some kids want a drone to take aerial videos. Some kids want a drone to race. And some kids just want something badass to fly around. For those in the third camp, there’s Protocol’s RC Helicopter. As far as features are concerned, it’s nothing fancy — there’s no camera, for example, and the flight time is an average six minutes  — but reviewers say it flies well, has a high chance of surviving minor crashes, and is easy to control. A few spare propellor blades are also included, which is good — if the copter does crash, they’ll likely be the first part to perish.
Like other options on this list, the RC Helicopter is light enough to blow away under the control of inexperienced pilots, so it’s best suited for indoor use if there’s any substantial wind outside. But that should be fine. Indoors is the best place to learn piloting skills anyway, and landing a bright green helicopter on the kitchen table sounds pretty fun.
While this toy weighs 0.71 pounds, Protocol does not list it among its products that need to be registered with the FAA. 
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