Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Choice for a Tablet for Children

by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Until April 4, 2015, my choice for a kid's tablet, the Kindle Fire HD Kid's Edition, is on sale at Amazon for $25 off. It's my choice for my two children, aged 3 and 5, and I'll tell you why:

1- 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 1 hour per day for apps, 45 minutes per day for videos, and 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.

You can run FreeTime on any Kindle Fire, and you can also sign up for "FreeTime Unlimited." This is a monthly 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.

So, why the Kindle Fire Kid's Edition if you can run FreeTime on any Kindle Fire? Well, a purchase of the Kid's edition gives you one year of FreeTime Unlimited for free. And:

2- The Kindle Fire HD Kid's Edition comes with external padding and a 2 year worry-free warranty against any damage to the tablet. 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. I also want my own Kindle Fire back so I can read my ebooks on it!

3- The price is right. Currently, Amazon is running a promotion until April 4, 2015 on the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition. Its price starts at $124 right now (it usually starts at $149), and you can also choose to pay for it in five monthly interest-free installments. This price is significantly lower than most of the popular tablets on the market. I opted for the 7 inch screen and the 16GB memory, which brought the cost to $189. Below I will explain why I think you will need the memory.

Every tablet has its pros and cons. One of the cons of the Kindle Fire at its original 8GB memory is that the memory actually fills up quite quickly - once your child chooses an app to play with, it installs on the device, and too many apps will cause device to overload and stop working. You would then need to remove items from the device, and in some cases, people have had to soft reset the tablet. This is why I opted for the greater amount of memory, so that this would happen less often.

The other con with 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.

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!