Though drones have been around for some time, buying one is still not as simple as purchasing a smartphone or laptop. Several aspects of the mini airplane and the multiple laws regulating its use can confuse even the most knowledgeable drone user. If you'd like to eliminate all the research and would like to know the best drone for your eight-year-old kid, the following are some of the best offerings:
- Holy Stone HS210
- DoDoeleph X20
- Force1 Scoot Hand Operated Drone
- Red5 Motion Controlled Drone
- Holy Stone HS177
- FlyNova Hand Operated Drone
To know more about these drones, the things to look at when buying a drone for your kid, and every possible information relating to owning and using a mini drone, keep reading. Before getting to know the individual drones in a lot more detail, let's get to know the drone landscape for kids.
Are Kids Allowed to Fly Drones?
Kids can certainly fly drones, provided they are playing with the ones purpose-designed for them. In terms of age, your kid should be eight years or older. There are also drones for kids much younger. But then, not all kids develop physically and mentally at the same pace, and some kids could be a bit too young for their age. And then some 8-year-olds may have already entered the tween mindset.
As a parent, you should take charge and ascertain if your child is indeed ready for some drone action. If you are new to drones yourself, put in the time and effort to learn about drones and how to fly them so that you are in a much better position to guide your kid.
And even if your kid is flying an age-appropriate drone, you should always be around to monitor the activity and ensure the drone is not entering restricted, treacherous territory or breaching others' privacy.
Will 8-Year-Old Kids Fancy Drones?
There's no dearth of games and toys for kids to indulge in and keep themselves busy. It, therefore, begs the question: Is it necessary for kids to play around with miniaturized versions of a device primarily meant for grownups?
If you like your kids to indulge in varied activities, you should consider buying them a mini drone – perhaps as a holiday gift or a birthday present. A quadcopter is fun to watch flying and even more exciting when you're in direct charge of the flight.
If your kid is used to flying toy helicopters, a drone will be a proper upgrade and considerably more enjoyable too. Moreover, compared to other levitating or flying toys, a drone with its four propellers is a lot more stable and safer to use.
The Kids Drone Industry – A Brief Overview
Most drones for kids are not built from scratch, or they borrow heavily from their larger siblings. Some companies even don't resort to much legwork and just put things together to create a miniature drone and slap their branding on it.
Contrary to what you may believe, kids' drones are not easier to operate than their adult counterparts. The controls, for instance, could be annoyingly rudimentary and non-intuitive.
The battery life is likely not to be great. A continuous flying time of 10 minutes may be the maximum you could extract from the drone. The charging mechanism may not be of current standards, and the pilot-assist functions would be lacking as well.
All of this can be attributed to the fact that kids do not represent drones' target market. Most manufacturers, as a result, do not put in a lot of effort, time, and money into making drones for kids. But that doesn't mean the drones for our little ones are outright bad. There are quite a few solid offerings (more on them later).
Registration and Licensing
Unlike drones for adults, kids' mini helicopters don't have to go through much red tape to fly in the air legally. They typically don't need registration as they are less than .55 pounds (250g). Kids also do not require a remote pilot certificate because, as per the FAA, only individuals who are 16 or older can legally apply for the license.
Things to Consider/Ensure When Buying a Drone
To grab hold of a drone that's safe for your kid and also offers an enjoyable or rewarding experience, try to adhere to the following:
- Make sure the drone is for kids eight years old and above. The age recommendation is usually listed either on the product box or in the manual. Ascertaining the same should therefore not be difficult.
- The drone's ability to maintain flight or not lose stability when your kid takes their hands off the drone's controller is essential. This decreases the likelihood of crashes and makes the aircraft easier to fly.
- The drone blades should have proper guards so that your kids don't hurt their tiny fingers when holding the mini helicopter anywhere near its propellers. If the quadcopter you purchased doesn't come with factory guards, you can always buy aftermarket protectors.
- Other safety features the drone should have are auto-landing, recall option, auto take-off, stabilization, etc. Not all drones for kids come equipped with all of these features. Therefore, look for UAVs that come fitted with them all or at least most of them.
- Though the fun attached to flying is paramount, it's also crucial for the drone to have a decent camera or offer the provision to attach a third-party one. A solid camera will create memories that'll be wonderful to look back at in the future.
- Spend the right amount of money. Don't splurge on the mini drone since your kids may not fancy the drone after a few years or once they outgrow it. And don't cheap out, too, as you might end up buying a substandard product that would likely not be fun to fly and perhaps unsafe too. Anything less than $100 would go down as a wise spend.
- Battery life is usually not great in mini drones. But do look for a mini drone whose battery can offer around 10 minutes of continuous flight on a single charge. Five minutes of flight is the bare minimum. Anything over 10 minutes is a bonus. Do not prioritize battery life at the expense of other features.
- The drone could be controlled by its own remote or a smartphone. Some drones may not come with their dedicated controller and depend entirely on a smartphone or tablet computer. If you're not particularly stoked about your kids using your phone to control the drone and are also not planning to buy a new smartphone outright, look at kids' drones that come with a remote controller in the box.
Best Drones for 8-Year-Olds
As stated above, kids don't have many options when it comes to a mini aircraft. That, however, doesn't mean the space is without its buzz (no pun intended). Some drone manufacturers focus more on drones for kids, or some of their best-selling offerings are for children around 8.
The following drones are known for their safety and efficacy. Moreover, the brands listed below have some drone history to them. They are known for keeping up with the market trends and releasing newer offerings at regular intervals.
The drones mentioned below have had good ratings and reviews from existing buyers and the general drone community. But reviews or customer ratings aren't the only criteria considered to judge the quality and "child-friendliness" of these drones. Not to mention, all of the drones mentioned below are safe for use by 8-year-old children.
P.S. One or a few of the drones mentioned below may not be available for purchase in the U.S. If you cannot manage to buy a particular drone, you can always pick one from the other drone choices.
Holy Stone HS210
The Holy Stone HS210 is arguably the most popular quad for eight-year-old drone pilots. The striking design is the first thing you notice when you see the drone. The color scheme shall remind you of an F1 racing car. Once you look past the aesthetics, you tend to fall in love with the drone even more.
The HS210 is feature-packed. It has the "altitude hold" feature and is capable of mid-air flips. The auto-hovering function means the drone will remain at a particular height when your hands are not on the controller. The "headless mode" means no fixed orientation or path, which makes flying the drone easier. The forward stick and the back stick are always forward and backward.
To start the drone, place it on a flat surface; pair it with its controller; press the start key so that the propellers begin to spin, and push the throttle to launch the flight. The "emergency stop" function lets you shut the aircraft off whenever the need to do so arises or when you lose control of the drone or its orientation.
Perhaps the handiest feature is the low battery alarm. When the drone is nearing complete battery depletion, the drone light blinks, and a prompt is sent to the transmitter. After a minute of beeping, the drone will land automatically, ensuring a safe landing even when the power is low.
DoDoeleph X20 Mini Drone
The DoDoeleph X20 is a mini drone with a traditional drone design, but it's relatively smaller in comparison. It's so tiny it can go in your jeans pocket. The X20 is packed with features for a tiny drone, including 360° flips, altitude hold, an LED light, etc. Indoor drones usually do not come with remote control. They are almost always hand-controlled. The X20 is an exception.
The controller is appropriately tiny as well. Not to mention, it offers precise steering and handling capabilities. The one-button press makes take-off and landing simple. The headless and altitude hold modes let you set height, negating the need to alter aircraft position before flying. The 6-axis gyroscope and quad-rotor setup offer stability and the ability to implement different flight movements. The drone can resist stronger winds too.
The flight time of about five minutes and the relatively long 50 minutes to recharge the 180mAh battery are perhaps the only negatives. On the other hand, the controller uses four swappable AAA batteries, which should last much longer.
Force1 Scoot Hand Operated Drone
The Force1 Scoot is a small, hand-operated drone that doesn't use a dedicated remote control. Powered by a rechargeable LiPo battery (USB cable included), the drone offers a flight time of up to 8 minutes.
To launch the drone, gently toss it up in the air. Since the drone is always within reach, continually tossing the drone should not be a task. Your kid will enjoy doing that. And the vibrant LEDs only add to the fun, particularly in dim lighting conditions. Based on the angle of the push received, the drone will change direction. The protective web-like shell will protect your kid's tiny fingers each time they touch the flying drone.
Though meant for the indoors, you may use the Force1 outdoors sparingly. The drone is equipped with obstacle-avoiding motion sensors that decrease the likelihood of a crash and also assist with navigation indoors.
Red5 Motion Controlled Drone
The Red5 is a drone ideal for 8-year-olds and also those much younger. According to the manufacturer, the recommended age group is 18 months to 8 years. If you'd like to introduce your kids to the concept of drones at a very young age, the Red5 is an excellent tool for that. It's easy to learn and hold, and there's the automatic hovering feature too.
The flight mechanism is pretty straightforward. Holding the computer mouse-like controller between the fingers and a simple click of a button is all that's needed to launch the aircraft. The drone will respond to hand movements. Make sure your kid keeps the hand gestures somewhat controlled so that the drone remains stable mid-air.
The propeller guards are well-made and offer necessary protection. However, they are lightweight and could pose durability issues in the future, particularly if the drone crashes too often. The drone is ideal for use indoors, in larger rooms. And because it is on the lighter side, weighing around 340 grams, the maximum flight time of 8 minutes is pretty decent. It takes approximately 30 minutes to recharge the 280mAh battery.
Holy Stone HS177
The Holy Stone HS177 may not look like a drone for an eight-year-old kid, but it certainly is one – at least, the manufacturer indicates so. The company is no stranger to beginner drones, and the HS177 again proves why it's such a reliable name in the industry.
The small mini drone boasts multiple functions. But before that, let's talk colors. The drone is available in four different hues. And if you like to mix and match things, the top shell can be removed and attached to a fuselage of some other shade. The propeller guards are soft and pliable, which means crashes won't cause harm to the blades.
There are three speed motions. If it's your kid's first time flying a drone, the lowest speed mode will be ideal. Once they get familiar with the drone's functions and flight, go up the speed levels. The speed mode chosen need not correlate with your kid's piloting skills. Even complete novices can fly the HS177 at top speed. And then there's "right/left-hand mode" to suit specific orientations as well.
Like the HS210, the HS177 also has the "emergency stop" feature to stop flight immediately when the drone operates weirdly or falls out of sight. Not to mention, the drone's range is between 30 to 50 meters (98 to 164 feet), which offers enough space for practicing maneuvers or trying out the drone's 360° stunt functions.
FlyNova Hand Operated Drone
Weighing in at just 20 grams (0.7 oz.), the FlyNova is arguably the lightest and safest drone your 8-year-old could have their hands on. Like the Force1, the FlyNova uses no remote control as well.
The drone appears nothing like a traditional quadcopter. It looks more like a flying saucer or a UFO (unidentified flying object). The design may also remind you of a fidget spinner or a desk fan. Other aspects of the design are the grill-type protective guard and wings that function like turbine blades. The translucent fan is the drone's propeller, which lifts the drone off the ground.
To start the drone, toggle on the power switch. Hold it with your fingers at its top and bottom, and manually spin the metal enclosure anti-clockwise. When it spins, it makes a faint purr, indicating it's ready to fly. Let go of the drone giving it a soft throw, and it should fly. You may have to do some juggling to sustain the flight.
Though recommended for kids eight years or older, it may be a bit too underwhelming a drone for some kids, especially those with previous experience with UAVs. For complete newbies, on the other hand, the FlyNova will be unadulterated fun.
Drones For Older Kids
If your 8-year-old feels any of the drones mentioned above are less fun or not as exciting, consider the following drones that suit older kids – usually 13- to 14-year-olds:
The Ryze Tello is a toy drone with solid value. Since DJI is Ryze's parent firm, the Tello has more than just a few similarities with DJI drones, particularly on the technology front. For instance, the 5-megapixel built-in camera with 720P video recording capabilities is solid for a toy drone.
And to keep kids interested, the flips and tricks are all on offer. The robust airframe, regular software updates that have added functions such as FPV flight and panoramic photography in the past, etc., are worth mentioning.
The Snaptain H823H is a futuristic-looking drone that's sure to grab your kid and their friends' attention. Even adults will feel enamored by the aircraft's design. The altitude hold feature helps keep the sleek aqua and blue drone's flight steady before the drone indulges itself in 360° flips and various other stunts. The three speed modes and the one-touch return are some handy features.
Holy Stone HS110D
The Holy Stone HS110D is for parents who value the aerial perspectives that their kids capture with a drone. The HS110D camera is capable of 120° wide-angle, 1080P videos that you can transport to your smartphone directly. The drone offers voice control, auto hover, and voice control also.
The Potensic A20 is a great learner's drone. The variable speed levels and adjustable flight make the drone ideal for newbie drone pilots. The drone is fun to fly, and there are helpful, relatively advanced tech such as "headless mode" and "altitude hold" as well. The one-key landing and take-off are pretty handy too.
Holyton HT02 Mini Drone
The Holyton HT02 is a portable mini drone with a traditional drone design accentuated with the red color scheme. Its flight time is around 8 minutes and takes about 30 minutes to charge fully. Convenience features include one-key landing and take-off. Then there's an "emergency stop" feature too to prevent any possibility of losing the drone due to lost control. The 360° flips mean the quadcopter can flip in four different directions.
Flying a drone is fun – for kids and adults alike. But compared to other toys, the possibilities of a drone malfunctioning and physically harming your child are slightly higher. Therefore, when buying a drone for your kid, look at how safe the aircraft is to fly overall. The UAVs mentioned above are among the safest quadcopters you could give your child.
Do not buy a drone meant for teens for your eight-year-old, even if you think your child is quite adept at handling the toy. If you'd like your kid to play with a drone that's meant for people older than them, always be around to keep a close watch on the proceedings. You must be in the vicinity even if your kid is playing with a drone appropriate for their age.
The best approach is to start with the smallest, relatively inexpensive drones. Take your pick from any of the drones listed above. Once your kid gets used to flying a drone, is unlikely to crash it or lose the aircraft in a tree, and/or finds the current drone lacking in features and functions, you may upgrade to bigger, more capable drones for 8-year-olds or tweens.
Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.