Amazon wants you to talk to your kids about the content the youngsters are digesting on Fire tablets. It is part of the two new features that Amazon has added to kid-friendly FreeTime service that aims to help give parents peace of mind that such content is age appropriate.
The first feature is a Parent Dashboard that mom and dad can access from any connected browser. It supplies a daily activity report of what of your child is engaged in on the tablet.
The reports reveal the videos the kids watched, the books they read, the apps and games they played, and the websites they visited, down to how many minutes they spent on a given title and how that usage pattern may have changed over the course of the week.
The second new feature, called Discussion Cards, is accessed from within the Parent Dashboard. Discussion Cards are just that, suggestions of open ended questions or talking points about the books, videos, educational apps and games that your kid is reading, watching and playing, along with a summary of the content. Amazon’s stated goal is to spark, well, a discussion, and to avoid the dreaded one-word answers kids all too often deliver.
Two of the sample questions on a Discussion Card for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets read as follows: “Families can talk about year two at Hogwarts. How is this book different from the first in the series?” Or, “It's often considered many fans' least favorite Harry Potter book (and movie). Why do you think that is?”
Of course, some of the Discussion Card questions—they’re written by Amazon content editors—are pretty general, as in “What have you built?” inside the Minecraft app, or “What problems did you encounter while building.”
Amazon says that Discussion Cards are already available for thousands of titles, with more added daily.
FreeTime itself is used by more than 10 million kids (and their parents). Parents can set up profiles for their kids through the service. There’s a free version, and a premium FreeTime Unlimited subscription option, the latter of which adds unlimited access to content from Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, and Electronic Arts, among others. Prime members pay $2.99 a month for a single child on FreeTime Unlimited or $4.99 for non-Prime members, though Amazon includes a year of service gratis if you buy the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet, which currently costs about $80. A family of four on Prime pays $6.99 a month or $83 a year for FreeTime Unlimited,
FreeTime works on Fire tablets, Fire TV and on Kindle readers.