My Kindle Fire is on. The long awaited release of the Kindle Fire has finally arrived. I anxiously opened up the packaging to play with my new tablet toy priced less than half of what it would cost for an iPad. But does this device have parental control features that will protect my small children? I reviewed the Kindle Fire and found that it has no parental control settings to secure my Amazon Prime account. We are an Apple family with a history of PC use. We have our iPhones and our MacBook, and we are completely satisfied with them. But this year for Christmas there isn’t money in the budget for an iPad for each kid, and let’s face it, no one wants to share their one and only Christmas gift.
So after reading up on the device, and because we are already members of Amazon’s Prime service anyway, we decided to try out the Kindle Fire and take advantage of their free Cloud service.
I could write a review on the technical specs but I am hardly qualified. I imagine that are plenty of parents, however, who are considering getting a Kindle Fire in lieu of an iPad, Nook Color, or even a hand held gaming device like a Nintendo D.S.
Unfortunately Kindle Fire allows easy access to Rated R films
Prospective buyers need to know that this very cool, sleek electronic toy has no parental monitoring safeguards installed on the device or available through a software download. I was surprised to find that all merchandise on Amazon’s website is available for purchase on the Kindle unless I choose to lock out my easy one-click buying option. This means anyone handling the device can buy whatever material they wish (electronic downloads and merchandise shipped to your door.) If you have a responsible 10 year old then there’s not much to worry about. But if you are buying for your 5 or 6 year old then you may run into problems when your credit card bill arrives. There is a safeguard in place when a person purchases that asks if it was done by mistake. This can come in handy for innocent accidental purchases.
The new Kindle Fire also offers free streaming movies for their Prime members. I was able to access “The Iron Giant” for free on my device. It’s a cute PG cartoon movie that is appropriate for my 1st grader to view. But I also noticed that Basic Instinct 2 and Striptease with Demi Moore was also available (geeze, and we all remember that one, don’t we?) I certainly don’t want my 8 year old son watching that in the back seat of our car on the way to grandma’s house. I wish Amazon would install parental controls for their devices so that movies which are rated “R” can be blocked on the Kindle Fire as easily as they can on AT&T Uverse.
We need to protect our kids from inappropriate materials online, and this includes electronic readers as well. Amazon should give Kindle Fire owners the option to install a 4 digit pin for content not appropriate for kids. Perhaps this is technically not possible. But I hope they can and do decide to implement such an option. The Kindle Fire has great potential as an alternative device for kids. Rather than spend an equal amount of money on a device that only plays video games, kids can get one that they can surf the web with, read a book on, watch T.V. shows on, and view movies, too. There are also options for newspapers and magazines but none are appropriate for kids. I would love to see Highlights and Sports Illustrated for Kids on the Kindle Fire. Ah, maybe I’m getting ahead of Amazon a bit too far. After all, the device is only just out of the technical box and needs time to get perfected. So parents beware of the Kindle Fire. If you have younger kids it may not be the hand held for you for now. And if you decide to go with it, make sure you keep a third eye on those kiddos as they play with it.
NEW: December 2011 Security Update for Amazon’s Kindle Fire
Just before Christmas Amazon started rolling out parental control updates on the Kindle Fires. Now users will be able to password protect their WiFi access. Users can turn it off in their settings, and remove default apps from the carousel. Apps like Facebook and IMDB still cannot be removed by the user, however. These advancements are encouraging, but still not enough to make the devices kid friendly. Buyers will need to utilize 3rd party parental controls to make these devices safer and more secure for kids to own.
Still Want to Keep Your Kindle Fire? Read About Some Work-Around Solutions:
- Install an app like Zoodles Kids Browser for Android and Custom Configure it. Although not a complete solution, this works great for Kindle Fire adult users who have kids ages 2-8 that may play on the device occasionally.
- Control website access into your device with customizable OpenDNS service. You can customize network internet parental controls on just your child’s Kindle Fire for free with OpenDNS. This service works great as a stand alone or in conjunction with Zoodles. It is appropriate for families that are gifting their Kindle Fire to their child. If your kid is too old for the Zoodles app this is a good alternative option for you. It will take time to configure the device with appropriate website bookmarks, however.