The kids were pretty clear what they wanted to see under the tree this Christmas. One wanted a snake (a python preferably) and the other requested a hamster. However, we wanted to avoid the future prey vs predator talk and needed Santa to come up with an alternate plan.
After avoiding most screen time for the first 5 years it’s time to reverse course. We’re not Amish, the kids have had plenty of exposure from family and school. We understand computer literacy is a necessity to operate in society. Early mastery is key. I was in computer coding classes in 1st and 2nd grade and I’ve been the family computer fix-it guy ever since.
The price of an iPad is crazy considering the competition is solid and we weren’t looking to drop $600+ on two. Especially considering monitoring their use would be a full-time job on the iPad. For both economy of money and time, we chose the Amazon Fire Kids 8 Edition.
The Fire eliminated the challenges of cost and close monitoring. At around $100 it is a great value. The kid’s edition costs a little more than regular version but is has Freetime preinstalled.
Freetime is the app that allows you to set up a profile for your kids. Their profiles are walled off from the adult profiles via a pin so you don’t have to worry about them milling about in your business.
The first thing you can do is set the age group. Despite being 6 I set our kids in the 5 and under range. There are over 4,000 books available under the books heading, a multitude of apps, we loved playing Monument Valley all weekend, as well as video and web headings.
Generally, they get the age-appropriate apps and videos right, but you can still delete anything you’d like. I bounced the Spongebob, Teen Titans and anything else from the Cartoon Network. You can also add things that may not fall in the under 5 settings. I added all the Harry Potter Books and Amazon Rapids App.
Another strong feature is the ability to set time limits for Apps, Video, Web, and Books. We go less than an hour on everything except books which we have set at unlimited. Parents can avoid the blame when time runs out. I’ve found they’ve been good when time limits its. You can also have it so they can’t play before a certain time in the morning and or not too late in the evening.
It took some time to get the filters to do their job. Not sure why it didn’t work out of the box, but when I was expecting the apps to turn off they wouldn’t. The kids were both sick so the extra playing time was a welcomed diversion and by the end of the week, things were humming along nicely.
Thus far we’re happy with what Santa brought. It’s a good motivator; both risking their privileges and a bonus for good behavior. The Amazon Fire Kids Edition comes with a year of Freetime Unlimited, a protective case (blue or Pink), as well as two years of replacements tables should that case not be enough protection.
After Five Days our favorite apps have been.
Cut the Rope