Best Drones For Kids

When choosing the best drones for your kid, you want to purchase one that your child will enjoy and not one that will become frustrating. Depending on your child, the drone might be too complicated or too simple. It might not be able to create the amazing videos one child would like, or it might not have the mechanical capabilities to be as fast or as maneuverable as another child would like.

So, when you’re picking out a drone, you’ll need to consider a number of factors, some related to your child and some related to the drone. You and your child together also should review federal, state, and local regulations and restrictions on where to fly drones. 

Make sure that your child understands the reasons for these restrictions, as that will help your child to understand why the restrictions exist and how important they are. Theses tips for choosing a great kids drone for sale will not only help you to become better informed about drones but also will help you to find the drone that is just right for your kids.

Child-Related Factors to Consider When Searching for the Best Drones for Kids:

  • Age

    Manufacturer’s do put age recommendations on their drones. The youngest age recommendation you’re likely to see is for five-year-olds and up. Many manufacturers recommend drones only for children ages eight to 10 or older. Some recommend drones only for children 14 and older.

    More advanced drones, in particular, are usually recommended only for older children.

    This YouTube video from YouTube drone expert Ken Heron, which is entitled Kids Fly Drones, Too! features then 10-year-old-soon-to-be-11 Jada who had had her drone for about three months.

    This does not mean that younger children cannot fly drones, but it is a suggestion that only children 14 and older should be allowed to fly drones without adult supervision. Younger children should only be allowed to fly drones when an adult is present.

    If you have a child whose level of eye-hand coordination, fine-muscle control, and judgement are developing more quickly than expected for his or her age, you can consider a more advanced drone. If you think that your child is likely to develop a long-term interest in flying drones, that’s another reason to buy a more advanced drone that will have features that continue to interest your child over a period of years.

    On the other hand, since drone manufacturers don’t recommend drones for very young children, there may not be a warning about small parts on the packaging. You will have to be the one to make the decision about whether or not the parts represent a choking hazard to your child.

  • Interests

    Some children are mechanically inclined from a young age. They want to take things apart to figure out how they work, even if they have no idea how to put them back together again.

    Some children enjoy things that zip around and move fast, while others like trying to maneuver things around obstacles. Ask yourself whether your child likes to race other kids while riding a bike or a Big Wheel, or whether your child likes to slalom around the furniture, trees, and shrubs.

    Still other children enjoy drawing things and taking pictures with a cell phone or camera.

    When you begin investigating drones, you will find that there are two kinds – racing drones and camera drones.

    Racing drones are smaller, lighter weight drones. Some come ready-to-fly (RTF), but many come in a kit and require assembly. This is because these drones are made to be modified (modded) to improve either their speed or maneuverability. {{image of a racing drone in action}}

    Racing drones appeal to kids who like speed or maneuverability or to kids who would enjoy tinkering with a drone and exploring ways to improve its performance. These drones can develop your child’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses by providing a hobby with immediate and practical applications of what your child is learning in class.

    You can find groups that meet up to learn how to improve their modifications and to compete in rotorcross, drag race, and time trial events. In rotorcross, two or more drones fly the course at the same time, and the first to cross the finish line wins. In drag races, courses are short distances of 100 yards or 100 meters, and two or more drones compete to see which one accelerates the quickest. In time trials, each drone flies the course separately, and the drone with the fastest completion time wins.

    There also are leagues for teams in which team members test their piloting skills against members of other teams by flying their drones through slalom-like courses between gates and around flags. Leagues, however, usually have maximum and minimum requirements for the types of drones and modifications that can compete in the league.

    Racing drones may have cameras, but these aren’t designed for creating high-quality videos. Instead, they are designed to transmit a first-person view (FPV) of what the drone sees back to virtual reality (VR) headgear worn by the pilot so that the pilot can maneuver the drone more accurately.

    Camera drones appeal to artistic kids as well as curious kids who like exploring and seeing the things that they are used to seeing from the aerial viewpoint of the drone. These drones may come with integrated cameras built-in, or they may have a platform that allows you to mount a separate camera. {{image of a camera drone}}

    In general, most of the integrated cameras built onto smaller drones produce lower quality images than a separate camera would, but attaching a separate camera adds weight to the drone which makes it more difficult to fly. Additionally, if the camera isn’t integrated into the drone, then your child will have to operate the camera controls while continuing to control the drone.

    In their article entitled “The Best Drones for children for STEM Learning”, DroneOmega.com reports that a camera “ . . . may motivate your child to learn how to fly the quadcopter with more control in order to capture proper photos or video footage” but adds “ . . .we have found that the camera distracts the child from focusing on learning how to fly . . . .”
    Further, in an article entitled “Best Drone For Kids 2018” BuzzParent.com states, while discussing drones that use separate rather than integrated cameras, “Operating the drone and the camera separately at the same time will be very difficult for your child, and they will probably need an adult to help them.”
    With these comment in mind, you might want to let your child learn to fly a racing drone first and encourage him or her to focus on developing piloting skills by competing with a team in slalom-like events. You and your child can also invent your own courses and tests of flying skills.

    Once your child has mastered maneuvering the drone, graduate him or her to a drone with an integrated camera, and then, finally, a drone with a platform for a camera. The better your child is at piloting a drone, the better his or her photographs and video will be and the less likely it will be that a drone crashes with a possibly expensive DSLR camera on board.

    In addition to learning how to fly a racing drone, your child could experiment with “modding” the drone to give it the increased lift and maneuverability that would help support the additional weight of a camera. Then if your child develops a long-term interest in drone photography and videography, he or she will have some idea how to modify drones as needed to support different types of cameras.

  • Capacity for Responsible Behavior

    Levels of responsibility don’t always correlate with age, and even though an adult may be present, an accidental injury to either a person or a pet can occur suddenly with a drone. Injuries can happen with even the smallest size drone and even when the drone has rotor guards. It’s important that children understand that they should not fly drones near people or moving cars or use them to chase or play with pets or wild animals. It’s also important that children understand that they should not invade anyone’s privacy by, for instance, flying a drone into a position to see through a neighbor’s windows or into a neighbor’s backyard.

Drone-Related Factors to Consider

  • Durable Design

    A durable design is important for anyone purchasing a first drone. Both children and adults are going to crash their drones, probably multiple times, when they first start learning to fly them. Look for drones with thick shells that are made of ABS plastic.

    Replacement parts should be available for purchase, and parts, especially the rotors and rotor guards, should be easy to replace. In fact, be prepared, and if a package of commonly needed replacement parts is available, buy it when you buy the drone so that the fun and learning can continue with minimal interruption. {{image of a package of replacement parts}}

  • Price

    When you’re purchasing a first drone, look for an inexpensive model for the same reason that you look for a durable one. Whether it’s a child or an adult, someone learning to fly a drone for the first time is going to crash it. You want a drone with enough of the type of features that will interest your child if the drone survives the learning-to-fly stage, but if it is damaged beyond repair in a crash, you won’t want to have a lot invested in it. Again from their article , DroneOmega.com recommends a price range between $50 and $100, commenting:

    Granted you can buy a quadcopter for under $50. However, these are more in the toy grade category, and simply do not fly well.
    The cheaper models have simple, if any sensors, a low-end flight control system, and a basic controller. The response of these cheaper quadcopters is sluggish, along with very poor flight stability.

  • Controls

    Some drones are controlled through an app installed on a tablet that comes with the drone or an app that you download and install on a mobile device. Others use the type of joystick controls that are used by video games and other remote control (RC) devices – cars, boats, and planes. Your child probably has used both tablets and joysticks, so familiarity with the basics of how these controls work isn’t a problem.

    Joystick RC remotes for drones have two joysticks that are used together to fly the drone, so you and your child may need time to adjust to having two controls to operate. {{image of a joystick control}}

    Also, when you turn the drone to fly in a different direction, the joystick controllers perceive left, right, forward and reverse from the drone’s perspective, not the pilot’s perspective, unless the drone has headless mode. In headless mode, if you move the controller to the right, the drone will fly to the right from the pilot’s perspective, regardless of which way the drone is actually facing.

    Joystick controllers do respond quickly, though, and it is easier to reverse the drones flight path with a joystick than it is with a tablet.

    Tablet controls use headless mode automatically, which makes them easier to learn. As mentioned, though, it is easier to reverse the drone’s flight joystick. {{image of a tablet control}}

    In addition to headless mode, drone controls may offer one-button launch, low flying mode, altitude hold, emergency shut off, waypoints, automatic flight modes, and a return to home (RTH) button.

    One-button launch launches the drone quickly with the push of a single button, getting the fun of flying off to a fast start.

    Low flying mode makes it easier to learn how to control the drone by reducing its agility and maneuverability. That makes it less likely that the drone will get away from a pilot who is a bit slow at the controls.

    Emergency shut off immediately shuts the drone off if its flight is about to crash or create a dangerous or injurious situation. Yes, the drone will fall to the ground from whatever its flying altitude was, but sacrificing the drone may be better than causing the crash of a Life Flight helicopter or allowing the drone to crash into another person or a power line.

    Altitude hold causes the drone to maintain a stable altitude as it hovers. Drone photographers and videographers can use altitude hold to cause the drone to remain steady while they operate the camera.

    Waypoints enable you to create a flight path for your drone by setting GPS points as guides.

    Automatic flight mode keeps the drone’s flight more stable by reducing the angles of pitch and yaw. This mode keeps beginning pilots, child or adult, from heading the drone down into the ground or accidentally flipping it upside down. Manual mode is available to use with a little more flying experience.

    Other maneuvers might also be built into the drone. Racing drones may have buttons that enable the drone to perform aerial stunts while camera drones have modes for taking trick shots.

    If your drone flies out of your line of sight, pushing the return to home (RTH button) signals the drone to use its onboard GPS to return to the point from which it was launched.

  • Gimbal

    A gimbal stabilizes the camera on a camera drone when the drone is flying and on windy days. It’s an important feature that a budding drone photographer or videographer will find invaluable. {{image of a gimbal on a camera drone}}

  • Number of Rotors

    Tricopters are short range drones with three rotors.{{image of a tricopter}} Quadcopters are also used for shorter flights. These drones have four rotors. {{image of a quadcopter}} Hexacopters have six rotors and are capable of longer flights. {{image of a hexacopter}}Octacopters have eight rotors and also usually have stabilizers. These drones are capable of flying the longest distance of these classifications. {{image of an octacopter}}

  • Size

    Some small drones are made for flying indoors only while some can be flown indoors or outdoors.

    Smaller drones can be buffeted by wind and blown into people, pets, and objects, so it’s best not to fly them if the wind is high enough for that to be a possibility.

    Larger, heavier drones are more stable and more resistant to being blown off course by the wind. The larger the drone, though, the more difficult it will be to fly and maneuver. Also, larger drones require more storage space, and they are heavier to transport to competitions or to a location where you might want to fly.

    Drones that weigh less than 5 grams are considered to be ultra-lightweight. {{image of an ultra-lightweight drone}}Those between 5 grams and 50 grams are considered to be lightweight drones. {{image of a lightweight drone}}Those between 50 and 100 grams are considered to be mid-weight drones. {{image of a mid-weight drone}}BuzzParents.com recommends ultra-lightweight and lightweight drones for first drones unless you have a reason to believe that your child can fly a mid-weight drone.

    If you plan to fly your drone outdoors and it weighs between 0.5 pounds and 55 pounds, you will need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, if you are flying your drone only for recreational purposes, you can register two or more drones together under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

  • Range

    The range of your drone is the distance the signal from the control can travel. The FAA has rules governing how drones can be flown, and one of them is that the drone must remain in view of either the pilot or a spotter.

    For this reason and because younger children are more likely to lose control of a drone, BuzzParent.com recommends a range of no more then 100 feet for young children. Older children will want to be able send their drones on longer flights, and they also may need more range if they are working on a STEM learning project with a drone. Still, BuzzParent.com recommends a range of no more than a mile for older children.

  • Flight Time and Battery Charging Time

    Flight times for drones range from 10 to 30 minutes while charging times for lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries range from 30 minutes to two hours. Taking off, flying at high speeds, long flights, and flying in windy weather or extremely hot or cold weather all put an extra drain on batteries.

    Larger, heavier drones and drones that are carrying a load, such as drones that are carrying a camera, also use more battery power.

    Having extra batteries on hand lets your child keep flying longer.

The Rules and Regulations

As mentioned previously, the FAA does have regulations regarding flying drones. You and your child should be certain that you understand them before flying your drone.

Together, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) founded KnowBeforeYouFly.org. The site is operated in partnership with the FAA. You can visit it to keep up with all federal regulations for drones, or you can download the B4UFly app from the FAA. {{infographic of the basic FAA regulations – stay under 400 feet, stay 25 feet away from people, don’t fly directly above people or cars, stay 5 miles away from airports, etc.}}

You also should check the state and local rules and regulations where you live and anywhere you visit where you might want to fly your drone outdoors.

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