Zoodles Android app: Can it Solve Kindle Fire Parental Controls Issue?

View of Kid-Safe Mode on the Kindle Fire

Zoodles review: Does it do the job for Kindle Fire parental controls issue? I decided to take a look at the Zoodles app for Kindle Fire. I was presently surprised at some of the nice options it includes. But Zoodles isn’t a fix all. I’ll explain in detail.

Amazon Prime and Zoodles: Is it a Parental Controls Match?

Zoodles on Kindle Fire
View of Zoodles Kid-Safe Mode on the Kindle Fire

This week I downloaded the Zoodles children’s browser to my Kindle Fire in hopes that it would solve the lack of parental controls issue for Amazon Prime members.

Zoodles is cross platform downloadable browser application for kids with a customizable parental controls feature. It also comes with a pricey premium. The company website claims it works on all kinds of devices: android mobile phones, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, as well as on your favorite PC or Mac. Users can manage their account on unlimited devices, too. This makes it handy for large families and for those that to travel to grandma’s quite a bit. Their team scours the internet for appropriate online educational games and videos for kids between 3-8 years old. It creates a customized browser experience for each child in your house based on their age and abilities. In addition, premium parents can choose what kinds of games they would like to see more of, and what games they would like to block.

There is a violence scale of 1-5 that can be set for each child. There is also a convenient character blocking setting if you are not too enthralled with iCarly or the Suite Life of Zac and Cody. You can even block Boohbah or any other cartoon character that either annoys you or doesn’t interest your child.

So, will Zoodles Android app solve Kindle Fire parental controls issue?

My answer is: A big fat maybe.

Here are the Zoodles for Kindle Fire Pros:

  • It blocks all content to the web that is inappropriate for kids.
  • It has a lock button feature that will not allow kids to access anything outside of Zoodles on the device once it is activated. Parents can access the device by typing in either their birth year (4 digit pin) or by drawing the letter “Z” on the screen and tapping the back button twice.
  • Zoodles allows parents to turn on certain apps so that their child can access it through their customizable browser. This is handy if your child likes Angry Birds or Plants versus Zombies.
  • Zoodles keeps track of your kids’ activities and gives you a report of what they’ve done.
  • Zoodles lets you add websites that you think are appropriate for your child.
  • Because the Kindle Fire is an Android device, Zoodles will provide the flash games for your children to play.

Here are the Zoodles for Kindle Fire Cons:

  • While Amazon users are able to activate the Amazon MP3 app and the Amazon Videos app from inside their customizable browser, you cannot access your Kindle books. So if you are buying this device instead of a Nintendo D.S. because you want your child to have access to good books on the go, this is a major flaw in the Kindle Fire Android device. In order for your child to view the books you will need to give them full access to the device. This is fine if you plan to read aloud to your kids, but not so great if you have an 8 year old that is fully able to read on his own.
  • If you choose to activate the Amazon Videos app they will have access to the full library. I activated the Amazon Videos app from within the Zoodles browser on my Kindle Fire device. While in Kid Safe Mode on the Kindle Fire I was able to download and view The Last of the Mohicans (which is rated R) without having to supply a four digit pin either through Zoodles or Amazon.
  • While Zoodles offers videos within their browser for kids to view on the Kindle Fire, there isn’t capability to browse YouTube videos that are appropriate for kids. Our kids play musical instruments and they enjoy watching performance videos and teaching videos on YouTube.
  • The Zoodles Mail feature is for video mail only. Since Kindle Fire does not have a video camera kids can receive video emails but they cannot respond on the android device. I, for one, would love to see the option for kids to type an email to their grandparents, cousins, each other, and their parents. It is a great way to practice writing skills.

Here’s my Bottom line on using Zoodles to Solve Kindle Fire Parental Controls Issue:

If you are planning to purchase the Kindle Fire and are looking for a work-around that will make the device more user-friendly for your children, Zoodles may be an option. I hesitate to recommend them wholeheartedly, especially since I tried contacting the company through multiple emails and by telephone with no luck. Customer service isn’t a strong suite at their company headquarters in Mountain View, CA. I wanted to get a better picture on what they are willing and able to do for Kindle Fire users in the near and distant future. I sent a letter asking if they have contacted Amazon about working together. I asked if they were tweaking the software to solve the lack of parental controls on Kindle Fire. I’ve gotten no response yet.  Having said that, I still believe that their software is a better than nothing solution for the die hard Kindle fan who wants to give their young child a Kindle Fire for Christmas this year. I just hope that the Amazon people and the Zoodles people can get together and talk to each other about solving these issues. I’m not sure how likely that is, after all, since Amazon isn’t communicating all that well with their customers.

Update: Users can set Parental Controls through DNS too.

Kindle Fire users can create custom internet filtering through their home WiFi network on their child’s device as a way to better solve the Kindle Fire parental controls issue. To find out more in a step by step tutorial, please visit: Set Internet Parental Controls on Your Child’s iPad or Kindle Fire

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9 Comments on Zoodles Android app: Can it Solve Kindle Fire Parental Controls Issue?

  1. Hi Caryn,

    Thanks for discovering us and writing this post! We are a very small team and have been completely swamped in support, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Because the Kindle Fire is such a new platform (and we just bought one for the office), it will take some time for us to add any Fire-specific capabilities to the app. For now, regardless of what Android device you’re using, any time a parent adds a native app to Kid Mode, we have very little control over what a child does once they’re inside that app (including YouTube, Amazon Video, etc). We would love to have access to your child’s books on the Fire, but unfortunately without that access, it’s not possible for us to include them in Kid Mode at this time. We love all your ideas and feedback though; we’re just as eager to include features like that in our app! In the meantime, very glad that Zoodles is able to make the Kindle Fire a bit more family-friendly for you.

    Best,
    Rachel

    Product Manager
    Zoodles

  2. Thanks Rachel! And I hope that the folks at Amazon are willing to make a deal. If they work with Zoodles to allow access to Kindle ebooks that would make the Kindle Fire a reputable foe of the iPad and a really awesome affordable next generation handheld device for school-aged kids.

  3. I would love to see parental controls for the Kindle Fire. My daughter is 10 years old, and the Nintendo DS just seems too young for her. If I thought the Fire would find a way to introduce some parental controls, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one for my daughter.

    • I’m pretty sure they will eventually. They are very tight lipped about it. Barnes and Nobel released their Nook Color last year without parental controls on it. But within 9 months they had released a software patch that included basic parental controls on the device because of customer complaints. I really want my kids to be able to read books on the Fire and to watch occasional movies or shows that are appropriate for young kids. I totally agree with you on the D.S. I have an almost 9 year old who wants a D.S. badly. Zoodles may be a bit too young for a 10 year old, but you can customize their service if you have a paid membership. It is perfect for my younger two, especially the 5 year old. The games that they filter are for 8 and under, but they do allow parents to permit additional websites. We like EdHeads because my son gets to perform virtual surgeries there, so I added it to the list of acceptable websites through his Zoodles account. Perhaps They will expand to include the 9-11 market, too (fingers crossed)!

  4. Thank you!! We bought the Fire for our 7 yr old daughter for Christmas without realizing the freedom she would have. My husband now wants to return it but I might be able to change his mind with Zoodles!

  5. I bought one for my 8 year old, it’s going back today. While trying to get it set up for him, downloading apps, books, etc., I ran into explicit content several times. That was enough for me, with no way to filter or block anything, it has to go.

    • Rhiannon, It looks like they’ve removed it. You can still get it on Google play. Amazon has done a lot to improve their parental controls since this post was written. I’ll have to write a tutorial on how to utilize the parental controls on the native Kindle Fire software that is already on your device. Just quickly, if you put your finger on the top of the screen and hold it a second then drag your finger down a black bar will appear. On the far right you’ll see ‘more’. Click on ‘more’. The parental control features are in there.

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