Amazon’s Fire Kids Edition tablets are tablets designed for kids and marketed to parents. They come with a protective case, extensive warranty, and FreeTime, a massive collection of kid-friendly content.
Whenever you give a digital device to your child, you want to ensure that you set up parental controls, and that it’s adequately secure and private. Let’s walk through steps to do so with your Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet.
For some settings, I don’t have a recommendation related to security or privacy, so I don’t describe them in this guide. For those, feel free to keep the default, or choose based on your preferences.
Note: Amazon Fire tablets used to be called Kindle Fire tablets.
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Create Child Profile in Amazon Household
You need to create a profile for your child, which will determine their level of access, and allow you to monitor their activity.
Go to Amazon Household and click Add a Teen (meant for ages 13-17) or Add a Child (meant for ages 12 and under). You’ll be asked for the child’s name, gender, and birth date. You also choose an icon to represent your child.
I recommend that you use a codename for your child, to keep their name private from Amazon and from anyone who may get access to your Amazon account or devices. For the same reason, I recommend that instead of entering your child’s actual birth date, you enter a date that’s close to it.
Utilizing Amazon Fire Kids Edition Parental Controls
On the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet, open your profile (if you’re setting up a new tablet, it will be the default profile; the only one on the tablet).
Tap the Settings app, then My Account, then Register. Sign in with your Amazon account.
On the Fire options page, I recommend unchecking Save Wi-Fi Password to Amazon. You can decide whether to check Auto-Save Photos and Videos (I didn’t).
On the Fire Kids Edition screen, tap Set up your child’s account. On the Set Lock Screen PIN screen, set a PIN or password for your profile, to prevent your child from accessing it. If you’ll be storing any important data on the tablet, or making important data available from the tablet, I highly recommend setting a password rather than a PIN, because a strong password is more secure than a 4-digit PIN.
Tap the Settings app, then Apps & Notifications. Set On the Lock Screen to Hide sensitive notification content.
Go back to Settings, then tap Alexa. I recommend toggling to off, unless you want your child to use Alexa (Amazon’s voice assistant).
Go back to Settings, then tap Security & Privacy. Tap Location-Based Services, then App-level permissions. Toggle to off any apps that don’t truly need your location. You can toggle all to off and still remotely find, lock, and erase the tablet.
Go back to Security & Privacy, then tap Device Usage Data. I recommend toggling to off.
Go back to Security & Privacy, then tap Collect App Usage Data. I generally like to share data that helps make software and services better, as long as my (or my child’s) data is anonymized. You may choose to toggle to off if you’d rather not send data (even anonymized data) to Amazon.
Go back to Security & Privacy, then tap Advertising ID, then Interest-based Ads. I recommend toggling to off.
Go back to Settings, then tap Device Options, then Backup & Restore. I recommend toggling to on.
FreeTime is Amazon’s massive collection of kid-friendly content, as well as parental controls that allow you to control access. Amazon has curated books, videos, and apps by age so that your child only has access to the content available to the age range you select.
On the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet, open your profile. If you’re in a different profile, you can switch between profiles by swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping the user icon (round head and shoulders). Or, on the lock screen, tap your profile.
Open the FreeTime app on the tablet. To the right of your child’s name, tap the gear icon to open the settings for their profile.
Tap Set Daily Goals & Time Limits. Toggle to on. On the Weekdays and Weekends tabs, configure as you like. You can control the following:
- Bedtime: Time frame during which FreeTime can be used.
- Educational Goals: Amount of time you want your child to do educational activities each day. You can also block entertainment content until these goals are reached.
- Total Screen Time: Amount of time child can spend on FreeTime each day.
- Time by Activity Type: Amount of time child can spend in various FreeTime categories each day (apps, books, Audible, videos, Web).
Go back to your child’s settings and tap Age Filters. Then, drag the markers to set what content you’d like your child to have access to. Amazon determines what content is appropriate for what ages, but you don’t need to be bound by their judgment. If you want your child to see less content, just set the upper age lower than your child’s actual age. If you want your child to see more content, set the upper age higher than your child’s actual age. You can always change this later.
Go back to your child’s settings and tap Add Content. Here you can give your child access to additional Amazon content, websites, and/or videos from the Web, if you want.
Go back to your child’s settings and tap Remove Content. Here you can make content unavailable, including content that’s part of FreeTime. There are two ways to remove FreeTime content:
- Search by title or keyword: This shows all content that matches what you type. You can block individual items, or all items found in the search with a single tap.
- Remove by hand: Show all items available to your child and tap to block. You can filter by books, videos, and apps. The amount of content is overwhelming, so I recommend using the search option instead.
Another option is to go back to Age Filters (described above) and set the upper age lower than your child’s actual age.
Go back to your child’s settings and toggle to off Enable In-App Purchasing, unless you want your kids to be able to make purchases inside apps.
Go back to your child’s settings and tap Enable Web Browser. If your child isn’t ready to use the Web, toggle to off. If your child is ready to use the Web, you can choose whether you want to Enable Pre-Approved Web Content.
Amazon Parent Dashboard
The Amazon Parent Dashboard includes some of the same settings as the FreeTime app, plus a couple of extras. It also lets you view your child’s activity.
Click the gear icon to the right of your child’s name to open their settings.
If you don’t want your child to be able to control your Amazon smart home (Alexa) devices, click Smart Home Access, then toggle Enable Smart Home to off.
If you have Apple Music, Pandora, or Spotify connected to your Amazon account, you can prevent your child from listening to explicit content by clicking Manage Music and toggling all the options to on.
Using Amazon Fire Kids Edition Safely
You can install the FreeTime app on any Amazon tablet, or any Android or iOS device. But, the options may be more limited than they are on your kid’s Fire Kids Edition tablet. For example, I installed the iOS app and signed into my Amazon account, but I wasn’t able to remove FreeTime content through the iOS app; I had to use the FreeTime app on the Fire Kids Edition tablet to do that.
The security of your Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet largely depends on the security of your Amazon account. Be sure to learn from my Amazon Account Security and Privacy Guide.
If your Fire tablet doesn’t need to communicate with other devices on your home network, connect it to your guest network instead. That will ensure that traffic to and from the tablet goes directly through your router to the Internet, and doesn’t reach other devices on your network. That way, if your child does anything dangerous with the tablet, it won’t affect other devices on your network. Likewise, if someone else in your family does something dangerous with another device, it won’t affect the Fire tablet. You may need to enable the guest network feature in your router, and not all routers have it.
Amazon FreeTime automatically renews and charges you. If you don’t want this to happen, go to your subscription and toggle Auto-renew to off.
Downloading FreeTime Content for Offline Use
This section isn’t related to security or privacy, but it may help with your family’s use of Amazon FreeTime.
FreeTime content streams to your device; it isn’t pre-loaded onto the tablet. So if you plan to use it offline, without Wi-Fi, you need to add content to the device ahead of time, when you’re still on Wi-Fi. To do this, long-press (tap and hold) the item (book, app, or video), and a menu will appear. Tap Download. You’ll see a progress bar while it downloads, and see a checkmark appear on the item, indicating that it’s been downloaded. It can then be used when offline.
Any time your child opens a book or app for the first time, it will be automatically downloaded to the device, and will then be available offline. This isn’t true for videos; those you must manually download using the steps I just described.
You can confirm that the content you want is available offline by enabling Airplane Mode, and seeing if you can access the content you want to.
If you download a lot of content, you can make it easy for your kids to find their favorites by long-pressing an item, then tapping Add to Favorites.
You can delete a downloaded item by long-pressing the item, then tapping Remove from Device.