Amazon’s Kindle Fire for Kids is a 7″ tablet which comes with a year’s worth of Fire for Kids Unlimited (access to thousands of books, TV shows, educational apps, and games), a kid-friendly browser, an anti-bash case and – best of all- a two year no quibble warranty for breakage or screen cracks – however your little blighters did it…
We checked it out…
SM tester writes: OK, if you’re one of those ‘no TV except on special occasions’ parents then don’t read on… If, however, like me, you want a solution for travel, airport delays, 15 minutes longer in bed at the weekend or just generally trying to get your kids to have a bit of ‘quiet time’ (rather than chasing each other up and down the stairs or demanding you play ‘horsey’…) then this might be the best 99 quid you’ll spend this year.
If you’re a Kindle person you’ll be familiar with the Amazon interface – and the Fire for Kids has a ‘grown up’ section which allows all that (ie shopping, getting books, web browsing etc)- but it is cleverly hidden behind a passcode login and even if your children bash every number they know in there is no danger of either a) accidentally one-click purchasing something really expensive or b) resetting the device.
The thing is, they actually won’t even be remotely interesting in trying to hack your account when their own profile is so much more appealing. You can actually set up multiple accounts – each with its own icon – and preload them with age appropriate, more or less guilt free TV shows, films, books and apps such as ‘Ben and Holly’, ‘Team Umizoomi’, ‘Room on the Broom’ etc.
My kids navigated the interface so intuitively I didn’t even open the instructions – they just swiped to find programmes they liked and recently viewed items are saved to a ‘carousel’. A tech-savvy pal told me (about a week later) that adding an SD card to the equation means you can back up content, meaning that long car journeys without wifi can be full of the oinks of Peppa or (more to the point) the silence of complaints.
Real little gems we discovered include all the Sago Mini games – really lovely, imaginative apps designed for teenies, with lovable characters and very clever programming meaning that the games respond to the sorts of things that only a two year old would make them do (ie drive a car underwater or put a fish in a juicer…)
There are obviously loads of studies out there linking screen exposure to lack of REM sleep, anti social behaviour, blah blah – and you can actually limit the time your kids watch/play for on this tablet- but personally I find it is more a case of ‘what’ they are watching than for how long. My middle child, for example, will zonk out at the very strains of the animated version of ‘The Gruffalo’ or be rendered comatose as a result of watching ‘In the Night Garden’, whereas my eldest (slightly eccentric) son adores Christmas movies (at any time of year) and will happily settle down in his PJs with a blankie and something festive.
Honestly, we can’t really fault this product; the battery life will easily last the length of the M1 or a flight to Greece and (unlike my iPad) the touch screen works fine even when sticky fingers have been at it. The durable case means the tablet can be carried in a child’s rucksack (along with all their other junk) and – unlike slightly more frustrating children’s tablets out there – the load up speed for content is quick enough that (out of boredom) they don’t start pressing every function button or using it as a weapon.
The Kindle Fire for Kids is available from Amazon.