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Kindle Fire and Young Children: Not A Good Match?



The Amazon Kindle Fire should not be left in the control of your kids… unless you want them running up your credit card bill and don’t mind them viewing soft-core pornography. Ryan Kim of Gigaom made this point in a post about parental controls and the Kindle Fire.

Imagine this: you pull out your Kindle Fire and do a little reading. The magazine has an article about the newest iMacs, and you want to see if you can get one on Amazon. You open the store and check it out. You find one for a couple grand that you’d love to have, but don’t have the funds. You need to make the house payment. Your husband calls you to the other room for a discussion so you drop your Fire on the coffee table. While in the other room your toddler picks it up and starts tapping the screen. He accidentally hits the “Buy now with 1 Click” button. Then he hits the home button. You forget the Fire and don’t even look at it the rest of the night. Meanwhile Amazon charges your card for the $2,300 computer. You can cancel the order, but what if you don’t even notice it until it shows up two days later on your doorstep? You can return it and get your money back in about a week, but by then the house payment is late.

If you have a Kindle Fire it has your credit card connected to it for purchasing content. That was of minimal concern when it was just books, but the Amazon store available on the Fire sells far more expensive items: like computers or appliances. If you hand your Fire to the four-year old, she might just buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of products without you knowing it.

Kids playing with Fire - Kindle Fire

The other danger location is the video content. Amazon Instant Video has some pretty adult titles included for free or purchase. I’m not commenting on their availability. That’s a decision each adult can make on their own. But not having the content behind a protective wall means the Fire isn’t safe for the four-year old.

By comparison, each time you buy a movie or app on the iPad, you have to enter a password. This lone feature can keep kids away from the adult content, or the expensive content, even if you don’t turn on parental controls in the iPad Settings.

To avoid all this, don’t link your credit card to the Fire. This makes it fairly useless, however. The other way to avoid it is to not let young children play with Fire. As a parent I know I can trust my older kids to not buy content without my approval. They also know that I can see what they watch on Netflix or Instant Video by checking the history online. I do! So my 17 and 13 year olds are welcome to use my Kindle Fire so long as I’m not.

Source: Gigaom



  1. Robert Blum

    12/13/2011 at 2:55 pm

    For the credit card problem, just create a virtual credit card with only a dollar in it.  When you need to buy something, fill it from your credit card account online.  That’s what I do with mine.

    As for other content, well, you can password protect opening the Kindle.  That way, you have to supervise opening it.

    That said, Amazon really ought to add passwords for purchases, and parental controls are a necessary evil.  It’s no iPad (I own both), but it’s a nice machine for the price.

  2. brianweeden

    12/13/2011 at 5:10 pm

    Why is this an issue for the Kindle Fire and not the iOS?  If you have the same situation on your iPad or iPhone, your kid can hit the 1-click buy button on there as well because as far as I can tell the in-app buying restrictions don’t apply to the Amazon app.

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