The Tablet My Kids Use to Read Ebooks (Kindle Fire Kids Edition Full Review)
by Phoebe Farag Mikhail
There are many different kinds of tablets on the market, and they all have some great features for entertaining our kids. The Kindle Fire Kids Edition is the tablet I use for my children. These are the reasons I use it and recommend it for other families who want a tablet to use for screen time for their kids.
1- Parental Controls through Kindle FreeTime Unlimited. FreeTime is an app that you can only run on a Kindle Fire. On FreeTime, you can create a profile for each of your children, and you can control what content is available to them by adding the content to each child’s profile. Once the Kindle Fire is in FreeTime mode, your child cannot get out of that mode unless you put in a password.
You can also control how much time each child spends on the tablet on weekdays and on weekends, and even down to the type of use. For example, you can set it to allow 30 minutes per day for apps, 30 minutes per day for videos, 15 minutes per day for web use, and an 1 hour per day for ebooks. You can also set it so that your child cannot use the apps or video unless they have completed the ebook time first. For web use, you can allow your children specific websites to visit and block any websites you don’t want them to see. And you can set the device to stop working entirely at a certain hour.
2- It reduces screen time conflicts. My children know that I am the one who sets the time limits on their Kindle Fire, and there are times when they have begged for me to add more time or allow them to watch past the closing time (which I set 30 minutes before bed time). Overall, however, I don’t need to tell my children to get off the Kindle because they have watched too much, or set timers to limit their time and then have to pry the tablet out of their hands (though sometimes we have to do this at mealtime). When they have asked for more time, I have explained to my kids that they are given the amount of screen time appropriate to their ages according to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I limit their screen time because I love them and I don’t want their brains to turn into mush. They usually agree and move on to some other activity. Each child has his or her own profile, and once their time is up the other child gets the tablet and uses it on his or her profile.
2- Plenty of Engaging and Educational Children’s Content. You can run FreeTime on any Kindle Fire, and you can also sign up for “Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.” This is a monthly (or annual) subscription that allows Amazon to curate children’s content into your tablet appropriate to their age. This includes ebooks, apps, and videos that you would otherwise have to pay for each separately. The pricing for one child is $4.99 per month ($2.99 if you are a Prime member), and for a ‘household’ account of up to 4 children it is $9.99 ($6.99 if you are a Prime member).
I have been using FreeTime with my children for over a year and I have not seen Amazon curate anything inappropriate, although you do have the option to remove any content you don’t want in your child’s profile. Most of the content that Amazon provides comes from PBS Kids, Sesame Street, Disney, and Nickelodeon. Amazon also suggests content based on the activity on FreeTime. My son has repeatedly asked me to read him a new ebook he found on FreeTime about fire trucks and fire fighting because those are the videos and apps he has been gravitating towards. Now that he knows how to read, I have caught him reading ebooks that interest in without my prompting.
3- The Kindle Fire HD Kid’s Edition comes with external padding and a 2 year worry-free warranty against any damage to the tablet OR THE CHARGER! Amazon has replaced my charger (normally $30) twice because of mishaps with the kids. We have already lost the use of an iPad due to several drops by the kids. My own Kindle Fire has withstood many drops and still functions well, so I find that overall this tablet is more sturdy than some of the others on the market. With the padding and the warranty, the kid’s edition should last the kid’s drops and spills.
4- The price is right. Twice a year, Amazon runs promotions on this tablet, like its Black Friday promotion. Its retail price is $99, and you can also choose to pay for it in five monthly interest-free installments. Even at its retail price it is significantly cheaper than most of the popular tablets on the market.
Every tablet has its pros and cons. The main con of the Kindle Fire is that its app choices are not as wide as those on iOS or other Android based devices. I’ve read about very interesting children’s apps and been disappointed that they are not available on Amazon’s App store. The choices, however, are expanding, and I still find that FreeTime Unlimited offers enough choices for my kids to learn and play with in the few hours they are allowed to use the tablet per day. Another con is that the tablet sometimes freezes, especially when the memory is almost full, and can require a soft restart.
And, to be honest, my kids get most of their learning through offline free play, reading books together, and doing outdoor activities and trips. No tablet can replace those!
Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you make a purchase through the links on this page, I will get a small percentage of that purchase. I do not recommend any books, apps, or products on my blog that I do not use myself or have not read myself and would use with my own family. You are not obligated to use my links to make your purchase, but if you do, thank you!