Handing your child a teddy bear with an embedded camera is a bad idea. But a device with carefully curated content, used under direct parental supervision? That's a different story. Amazon has released a few new devices aimed at kids, including the Echo Dot for Kids and our recommended tablet, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. Here are a few things you may or may not know they can do.
1. Set educational goals
Amazon's all-in-one subscription platform, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited , is the main reason to buy an Amazon product for your kid. It presents a wide variety of age-appropriate books, movies, and games for your child, plucked from Amazon's vast wealth of content and carefully screened. From the FreeTime dashboard, you can set time limits and curfews. But you can also distinguish between educational and entertainment content. For example, you can say yes to books, no to web browsing, and choose apps and videos on a case-by-case basis. Selecting Learn First in your child’s profile will block access to entertainment content until they read a book or play a game about the alphabet for 20 or 30 minutes.
2. Hide Profiles on the Lock Screen
You can put child locks on your liquor cabinet and passwords on your adult profile. But if your children are sharing one tablet, an older child's scandalous Percy Jackson books are vulnerable to smaller hands. You can hide your older child's profile on the lock screen before you hand the Fire to your 4-year-old. Go to Settings while in your parent profile, pick the child's profile that you'd like to hide, and turn off "Show Profile On Lock Screen."
3. Customize Content
Amazon’s smart filters select age-appropriate materials, but maybe the colors on the Barbie content make your retinas blister and burn. Do not fear: From your parent profile, you can add or remove specific books, apps, and games on FreeTime. Additionally, if you don’t like the range of materials selected for a 10-year-old, you can use Amazon’s smart filters to dial back the age range—from 9-12 to 7-10, for example.
4. Delete All Those Accidental Photos
Kids love cameras, but nothing uses up more of the Fire’s limited memory storage than 3,000 blurry photos of their armpits. To delete the glut of horrible photos, download ES File Explorer in Amazon’s Appstore to select images and send them to the recycle bin. Then go back to Settings to disable the camera on your child’s profile, except on special occasions.
5. Call Santa on the Echo Dot!
I found that the Echo Dot for Kids was less useful than the Fire tablet for a closely supervised 3-year-old, but one of Amazon's latest features may make me reconsider. Amazon recently unveiled a new feature that will allow children to call Santa and his elves via Alexa. If the idea of paying extra for a few ounces of foam isn't appealing, you can also enable FreeTime on the 3rd-generation Echo Dot , which sounds better and is just as cute.
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