New Kindle Fire Lacks Parental Control Features

The Kindle Fire may not be for kids yet.
The Kindle Fire lacks parental safeguard options.

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.

The Kindle Fire may not be for kids yet.
The Kindle Fire lacks parental safeguard options.

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:

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14 Comments on New Kindle Fire Lacks Parental Control Features

  1. You would think that something that advertises for children books ,movies and games, would have a fail safe for parents to protect them from roaming into things that are not appropriate.
    From what I have read on the website, more planning should have been done before a quick release of the product. It appears many a Kindle Fire is being returned for various poor functional planning.

  2. Here’s how I see it: Kids have the potential to be exposed to things at friends’ houses, right? We can’t be with them all the time. So we have to teach them, communicate with them about what’s right and what’s wrong and then hope that those lessons will be the parental control, when there’s no parental control button available. No doubt, it’s hard being a parent.
    Thank you for sharing about the lack of the parental control feature. I’m a book columnist (and a kids ebook author) and will let my column readers know that that’s one thing to consider when buying the Fire.

  3. It would be nice to give your children with this new kindle but if it has this flaw, I’m having second thought of buying it as a gift for my child. Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding this matter.

    • Wish I would have seen this before I jumped in. The good thing is it is unopened and I can take it back after I talk with my husband about this. They should know that parental controls should come standard on everything.

      • My sentiments exactly. It’s not about not trusting my kids. It’s about not exposing them to things that they don’t need to be exposed to at such a young age. I don’t want to have to explain things or do damage control every time they pick it up. I’ve got younger kids who like to click on images. They are early readers who aren’t savvy enough to see the R rating and know they’re not supposed to click on that. I don’t want them clicking on Family Guy and tuning into an episode. We’ve got that blocked from our cable T.V., but it comes ‘free’ from the cloud to Amazon Prime members. More food for thought to anyone hedging on this. Unfortunately, I’ve cracked open the box and registered mine already. I must see about how to unregister it now.

  4. There is no application to be purchased as far as I know. I have researched it extensively. There is no control of internet access. The only thing you can do is log off after downloading the apps and books and disconnect the wifi before giving it to your kid. Totally defeats the point of having one, doesn’t it? I’m thinking iPad more and more….. the Nook Color came out in January and users complained about the lack of parental control features. Well, in August they announced new web browsing parental control features for the Nook Color.
    (http://gigaom.com/mobile/nook-color-tablet-update/)
    I wonder if the Kindle Fire isn’t going to go down a similar path in 6 months. So I say look at the Nook Color, Pete. See if that isn’t an optional gift idea in lieu of the Kindle Fire.

  5. Well, with a router restrictions you can cut-off access to certain internet sites (or site categories if you use some sort of DNS service). On the other hand, parental control software usually has much more control over when kids can surf and what content they can access.

    Because Kindle Fire is an Amazon product, Caryn rightfully expects some solution that can restrict access to certain Amazon features or content.

    Some readers blame parents for the lack of trust or they want kids to burn their hands to learn what is fire. It’s like leaving a whiskey bottle on the table and blaming a 5 year old that he got drunk… kids always want to try something forbidden, so many parents want to play safe and apply prevention strategy vs the “burn your hands” or “blind trust” strategies.

  6. I agree! Parental controls should come standard. From a tech point of view, not only could they easily make parental controls standard with any device that has wi-fi, they can also make it accessible for ALL disabilities, INCLUDING those with Colour processing issues that needs their Kindle books with different background colour and different text colours. Some need yellow background with black text, others need black background with a bright blue text. There is no “one” combination that works for all. Furthermore, a parent who buys a Amazon product, should then have to turn around and buy another product in order to make the first product useful. 😛

    I also believe, however, that those who need CC should stop being discriminated against as well. Do you know that Amazon does NOT allow streaming of movies with closed captioning? Netflix has the same issue. Would I buy a Kindle Fire? NEVER! When Amazon stops discriminating against those without “normal” abilities, then I’ll reconsider, until then. No thanks!

    Yes, not only are parents and their children dealt an unhealthy blow, but those with various disabilities have been discriminated against for years and the government has only given us lip service. It times that ALL people are accommodated for – parents, children, hearing impaired, sight impaired, those with colour processing issues, and other with various disabilities.

    Truth disclosure: I still use Netflix, but mostly use the mail, or just suffer with missing half the dialogue. I also buy from Amazon when I can’t find the item within a year, at other stores I can drive too. Even then, I’ll use Marketplace first. Otherwise, I try not to support companies that practice discrimination. Sometimes, I have no choice, because I can’t get my UK dvds any other way.

    signed one who has auditory processing issues and has a deaf friend and deaf cousin. I also, have mild colour processing issues.

  7. I have a Kindle Fire for myself. At $200 it made perfect sense, even though I’m a diehard Apple fan. I love it. Make that clear, for adults this is a wonderful purchase. As for my kids, I dunno, maybe I’m lucky or my kids have been raised correctly. The teenagers don’t do things they’re not supposed to do. They just don’t. If they did watch a R-rated movie or visited improper sites with my Kindle Fire or one of our computers I’d know. But that hasn’t happened. As for my 3 and 4 year old children. My 4 year old daughter is VERY interested in my Kindle Fire. I watch her closely with it and only a few times has she been left alone with it. She knows how to get to videos she likes. She plays with games that are for her age– and tries some of mine, which she never likes.

    Should the Kindle Fire have better parental control? Yes. But I’m not letting my kids get away with doing whatever wrong they could do anyway. I wouldn’t recommend buying a Kindle Fire for a child. But borrowing one, with supervision, is fine.

  8. This parent was a bit upset when I realized the Kindle did not have Parental Controls. Of most concern was inappropriate content my children might see by using the built in silk web browser. I spent quite a few hours working to find a workaround solution and discovered OPENDNS.COM I followed the well documented instructions for configuring on my router and that should have been the end of this story. Unfortunately, while every computer in our household reverted to using the DNS servers of OPENDNS the Kindle fought back! I don’t pretend to know the technicalities of why this works (hopefully someone can explain) but by disabling a feature called “Accelerate page loading” I was able to get the Kindle Fire to use my network configured OpenDNS servers. I believe when this feature is enabled (as it is by default) the device leverages Amazon’s DNS instead which would allow my children to access all kinds of inappropriate adult sites.

    To disable the Accelerate Page Leading figure, just open up the browser, hit the menu button at the bottom of the screen, hit the Settings button, and then look for this open under Advanced section and uncheck it.

    I hope this works for you as it did for me. Hopefully, a more elegant and secure solution will be designed by Amazon for a future wireless update. I tried configuring my router to block Amazon’s DNS and had heard it was using TCP/UDP port 53 but this didn’t seem to work for me.

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