Kindle Fire for Kids
Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition
Also available in blue and pink. 6" or 7" screen.
Kindle Fire for Children of all Ages
Amazon have finally brought out a Kindle Fire model specifically for children. The new Fire HD Kids Edition tablet is new for 2014. The tablet is available in 6" and 7" versions and comes with a colored bumper case in pink, blue or green. You also get a 2 year warranty which includes replacement if the tablet gets damaged by the kids.
The Fire HD Kids Edition is a 6" or 7" color tablet, just the right size for kids to hold. It has access to lots of eBooks including color titles, and video, music, games, apps and web browsing too. It comes with a year's subscription to Amazon FreeTime unlimited which has loads of kids books, video content and apps.
It's also worth noting that Amazon have also released new 6" and 7" HD Fire devices which come in a variety of colors. These devices are well-suited to tweens and teens. They are well-specified and affordable.
In this article we'll take a look at the features that make it suitable for kids and we'll also look at some alternative devices for children.
Oct 2014 Update: New Fire HD Kids Edition and Fire HD 6 and 7
Amazon have announced the new Kindle Fire models for 2014, and we've actually got a kid-specific model this year. Yay! Lot's of parents have been buying Kindle Fires for their children since they first came out. Amazon have gradually responded to this by adding parental controls and kid-friendly content and cases. Now they've put it all together into a kid-specific device.
Note that for older children the new 6" and 7" Fire HD models for 2014 are also worth considering. They may not need the bumper case and will appreciate the cool colors of the more grown up device.
Kindle Fire for Kids Overview - 2014
The Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition is a new table for 2014 coming out in October in time for the holiday season. In the past Amazon have provided child-friendly features for their regular tablets, but that required a bit more work for parents to pull everything together. The Fire HD Kids Edition is designed specifically for children and is a complete offering with case, insurance and content (free subscription to FreeTime unlimited for the first year.)
The Kids Edition is available in 6" and 7" sizes with the 6" being a little cheaper. 6" isn't a bad size for little kids, it's a bigger screen that you'll find on most kid-specific tablets like the LeapPad3 and InnoTab 3S Plus. 7" does give you quite a bit more space to work with though.
The Kindle Fire has lots of content that will be interesting to kids. There are eBooks, audio books and music, instant video for TV shows and movies. Games and apps from the Amazon AppStore and more new titles appearing all the time. There are lots of things that kids will enjoy doing. The Freetime Unlimited subscription service for kids' content is excellent value even when you have to pay for it after the first year.
The Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition product page doesn't yet stage how much storage the devices have, but their listings in the search results say 8GB which isn't a huge amount, but should be fine if you regularly remove content that the kids are using.
Fire HD 6" and HD 7"
I have a Kindle Fire 7" HD tablet which I share with my kids, especially my 6 year old son. He has asked for his own for is next birthday which makes sense as we often want to use the tablet at the same time.
For 2014 we have a new Fire HD 7" model which is available in a choice of colors for the first time. And we also have a Fire HD 6" device which is smaller and even more affordable.
Fire HD 6"
Cheapest Kindle Fire
For 2014/15 the cheapest Kindle Fire in the range is the new Fire HD 6" HD model with 8GB of storage and special offers (advertising.) The smaller device size brings the price down and makes this an attractive and very portable gadget for older kids, tweens and teens.
This isn't a kid-specific device, but the cool colors will appeal to older children.
If you want to get access to the Kindle Freetime parental controls and the Freetime Unlimited subscription service at a bargain price then this tablet is a good choice (you get a free trial and must then pay for the service.) The Amazon tablets are very well made compared to budget options that we've tried. In particular the screen and sound is very good.
Unlike earlier entry level Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire HD 6" does have front and rear cameras so it can be used for Skype.
If the kid-friendly features are useful to you then buying a Fire HD Kids Edition offers good value for money. Otherwise go for the cheaper Fire HD for older children.
Fire HD vs Fire HD Kids Edition
Amazon have announced a new range of Fire HD tablets as well as the new Fire HD Kids Edition. You might be wondering which one to choose for your kids.
The Fire HD Kids Edition is more expensive - about $50 more expensive. This might seem surprising at first - stuff for kids is normally cheaper, right? But in this case you are getting more for your money:
- the specially designed bumper case
- insurance included rather than as an extra
- a year's subscription to FreeTime unlimited
- no "special offers" - you pay extra to remove these with the Fire HD
If these features are important to you, which they are likely to be if you have small children then the Fire HD Kids Edition will be better value for money.
The Fire HD (grown up edition) does have some extra features too though, you have the option to upgrade to 16 GB and choose from a range of cool colors.
According to engadget, both tablets have the same technical specification so there's nothing to choose between them there.
Note: Older material below
New Kindle Fire for Kids
Amazon are clearly including kids in the target audience for the new range. Children feature in the new video commercial:
Kindle Fire HD for Kids: Kindle FreeTime
The original Kindle Fire proved very popular with kids. The new versions have some features designed with kids in mind:
FreeTime is included with the Kindle Fire HD and offers:
- Multiple profiles so each child has access to the content that parents decide is appropriate (very useful for tablets or Amazon accounts that are shared by multiple family members.)
- Time limits for usage
- Kid-friendly user interface
Kindle Fire FreeTime Unlimited
Content Subscription Service
Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is a new service from Amazon (announced Dec 5th 2012 and available within a few weeks) that offers a subscription to kids content. Kids get access to thousands of videos, books, apps and games that have been selected for their suitability for kids aged 3-8.
This is just want has been needed to allow kids some choice over what they watch, read and play without coming across unsuitable content. or spending real money. I love the idea of a fixed subscription. The cost of buying apps and eBooks can really add up and accessed to lots of kid-friendly videos is brilliant. This could be the clincher for a lot of parents.
Kindle Fire and Fire HD tablets come with a one month free trial of Kindle FreeTime unlimited and then there is a monthly fee which is discounted for Amazon Prime members.
Kindle Fire Multiple Profiles
Having multiple profile support is a big deal for kids. This means that each family member can have a separate profile so they see just the apps that are suitable for them.
Parents can set up the tablets with the games, apps, eBooks, movies that they want that child to have access to. Parents can now control what kids can do with their Kindle Fires in an effective way.
This feature is also useful when a device is shared. For example, an adult can have access to grown up movies while they don't want their child to see. And siblings can each have eBooks at an appropriate reading level for them.
It also makes it easier to find things if each child has just the content that is suitable for them
Child-Friendly Accessories for Kindle Fire and HD
There are various accessories that make sense as child-friendly add-ons for the Kindle Fire. I've put together a selection of the best:
Another new Kindle Fire feature that is great for kids is called "Immersion Reading". This feature can synchronize the written text of an eBook with an Audible voice track. Kids can see words highlighted as a book is read to them. Great for kids who are learning to read or improving their reading and spelling.
Many kids tablets have interactive eBooks that support this kind of reading along, but the immersion reading feature has the potential to offer this for a much wider range of titles.
Which Kindle Fire for Kids?
We now have a choice of devices to choose from. Which should you choose for your child?
If price is critical to you then the new releases have made the basic Kindle Fire HD model more affordable but with a higher spec.
If the higher spec, additional storage, camera and video camera (with Skype video chat) make sense for your child then there's the new Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet.
We've stated before that the 7" tablet is just right for kids. There are however times when the larger screen of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" could make sense. These include picture books for infants and toddlers who will not be holding the tablet themselves, but sharing storytime with a parent. And then for older kids there are graphic novels and magazines which can also benefit from a larger screen.
Kindle Fire for Kids Books - Gorgeous Color eBooks
A lot of kids books, especially for little kids aren't very exciting on a black and white Kindle. I have used my eInk Kindle with my kids, but there's no doubt they'll be more interested in the Kindle Fire with its gorgeous color touch display.
Amazon have announced that over 1000 specially formatted children's books for the Kindle Fire. "Choose from over 1000 popular children's books never before available on Kindle. A select list of titles are available for pre-order today with more being added regularly."
For older kids, a Kindle Fire that can be used for reading and lots of other things is very convenient. Though avid readers may prefer a Kindle Touch which is easier on the eye when reading for long periods.
Kids TV Shows and Movies - For Little Kids through to Teenagers
Amazon has a huge library of instant videos. There are tons of kids TV shows and movies for babies, toddlers and preschoolers through to tweens and teens.
Note that if you subscribe to Amazon Prime using the Amazon account associated with the Kindle Fire then you will be able to download instant video any time you want for no additional charge. Or you can just buy individual titles if you'll only use video occasionally.
A small tablet that you can use for watching video is handy for travelling, resolving disputes over what to watch on the main TV and letting kids have some control over what they watch.
Note that you video content is backed up to the cloud so you don't have to fit all of your video content on the device itself.
Kindle Fire Comics and Graphic Novels
The Kindle Fire is a great platform for reading comics and graphic novels which are very popular with older kids. Amazon are bringing the latest comic titles to Kindle Fire (and not other Kindles.)
Kindle Fire Internet Controls and Content Filtering
Some parents will want to prevent their kids accessing the internet. In other cases you may want to offer your child limited web browsing of kid-safe sites. There are applications available that you can install on the Kindle Fire so that you can control and monitor your child's web access.
Instructions for installing NetNanny on Kindle Fire here. Note that this is a free trial of a subscription product.
Kindle Fire with Parental Controls
Now with comprehensive parental controls:
- Password protection on purchases
- Ability to disable access to some content libraries
- Ability to block access to the Silk web browser
New features as of May 2012, Software version 6.3.1.
September 2012: New multiple profiles and usage time limits.
Kindle Fire Parental Controls
Update Fall 2012: FreeTime designed specifically for kids to provide parental controls for kids.
Update: May 2012.
The lastest Kindle Fire Software 6.3.1 update provides significant additional parental controls: "This update brings additional parental controls to Kindle Fire, including the ability to password-protect purchases, disable access to specific content libraries, and block access to the Silk web browser."
These latest changes will make a big difference to parents who don't want their children to be able to buy things accidentally (or on purpose.) It's also useful for parents who want to share a device with their children and keep some content private.
Amazon had previously responded to concerns by providing partial parental controls for the Kindle Fire:
Parents tend to be concerned about two things:
1. Access to inappropriate content - via the web or downloaded books
2. Ability to spend money without permission
You can set parental controls for in-app purchases (new game levels, in-game currency, etc) for Amazon Appstore for Android on the Kindle Fire. This is important because kids sometimes don't realize these things cost real money.
You can turn off 1-click purchasing on the Kindle Fire, but at time of writing this is not possible for apps.
You can set kids up with a gift card or prepaid Visa card to give them a budget.
To access free apps you do need a credit card on the account, but a prepaid credit card, e.g. Visa, is okay.
As of Kindle Fire Software Version 6.2.1 you can set up Kindle Fire Wifi Password Protection. This means that a password will be required to enable network access. This means that kids won't be able to browse the web or make purchases without the password.
Some parents feel that these issues are best dealt with by communication with a child rather than software enforcement. Others would prefer to have more safeguards built in. Amazon have listened and added further parental controls.
Personally, my children are young and closely supervised when using any electronic device. I'm not sure how I'll feel when they are older though.
Make a Kindle Fire safe for kids
Watch this video to see what you need to do make a Kindle Fire safe for kids by turning off the Wifi access.
As of version 6.3.1. additional parental controls are also provided.
More Cheap Tablets for Kids
There are other Android tablets available for under $200. Some of the cheaper tablets don't run recent versions of Android and maybe heavier and slower than higher priced tablets. But definitely worth considering.
One thing to check carefully is the quality of the screen. This is an area where the Kindle Fire tablets perform very well and it's particularly important if the tablet will be used for reading.
View cheap Tablets under $200
Kindle Fire vs Nabi 2
The Nabi 2 is an Android tablet designed for kids. Unlike the Kindle Fire it has a kid-specific operating system with extensive parental controls. It also has a silcone bumper for protection.
Nabi 2 Tablet for Kids - New for 2012
The Nabi 2 Tablet by Fuhu is a 7" Wifi Android tablet for kids. Find out all about the Nabi and it's design and content for kids. The Nabi 2 is the seco...
Kindle Fire vs Apple iPod touch
Before the Kindle Fire came along, the iPod Touch was the obvious choice for a small media device for kids. It has lots of kids apps and is well established.
Of course the screen on an iPod Touch is much smaller than the 7" screen on the Kindle Fire. This makes the iPod more portable (and more easily lost) but not so good for watching movies or reading eBooks - though still quite possible.
The iPod Touch also has parental controls so you can decide what your child is able to do on the device and you can restrict purchasing to items you choose.
Kindle Fire vs LeapPad Ultra
The LeapPad Ultra is the new high-end young kids tablet from LeapFrog. This is quite a different device from last year's LeapPad. It has a 7" screen (yes, like a Kindle Fire) and a rechargeable battery.
It also has controlled and limited internet access via Wifi. Don't expect a full browsing experience, but this does open up the device.
It's definitely worth considering. We have an older LeapPad and the educational software is excellent. It's a very good tablet for young kids who are learning to read and write. For kids up to the age of around 5 I think a learning tablet is a better choice.
Top Things for Kids to do with a Kindle Fire
My kids are 4 and 6 and find lots to do with our Kindle Fire HD. Here are a few of their favorite things to do:
- My 6 year old likes to play Maths vs Mummies. He's very competitive and loves to level up.
- My 6 year old has an Italian boy in his class so he wanted to learn some Italian vocab. Babbel is multiple choice with lots of hints so he can make progress.
- Both my kids love Fruit Ninja (and I'm addicted too!) The Zen mode is great for my four year old and it's helping him to learn about big numbers.
- Reading! Attack of the Scorpion Riders (Quest of the Gods) is a hit with my 6 year old son.
Kindle Fire on eBay
You may be able to save money on a used Kindle Fire tablet.
Kindle Phone for Kids?
There are rumors of an Amazon Kindle phone that could come out in 2013. If Amazon include all the parental controls that we are seeing in the Kindle Fire now then this might be a good first smartphone for tweens and teens.
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Kindle Fire for Kids