Introducing new features on Amazon Fire Kids Edition

Two boys using an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet.

Dylan and Xander love the Amazon Fire Kids Edition I reviewed last year. Indeed, it has been in daily use since it arrived. It’s a product that I’m confident to let them use and they get a lot out of it. Last week, I visited Amazon’s UK offices to find out about some brand new additions.

Parent Dashboard and Discussion Cards promise to further improve the service for kids and parents alike. I’ve been using these new features on Amazon Fire Kids Edition for the last week ahead of today’s launch. Here’s what you can expect from them.

The new Parent Dashboard for Amazon Fire Kids Edition.

Parent Dashboard

How often have you  asked your kids what they’ve done at school only to be greeted with an apologetic shrug? You know that something must have gone in but, in that moment, they just can’t recall.

The same extends to a lot of things including tablet use. It’s natural that we want to know what they’ve learned and Parent Dashboard is the answer.

It’s a secure mobile-optimised website which provides a summary of each child’s activity, broken down into Books, Videos, Apps and Web.

You can navigate into each of these categories to find out the specific titles they’ve been engaging with and for how long.

You can go down another level too – which takes us nicely to the second new feature…

The new Discussion Cards feature for Amazon Fire Kids Edition.

Discussion Cards

Once you select a specific title, you’ll be taken to a summary screen that’s full of useful information. As well as the recommended age range and keywords which give you an at-a-glance idea of the genre and themes, there’s a written synopsis.

Then there are the Discussion Cards. These come in the form of a series of questions. Asking them enables parents to find out what their children have taken out of a book, video or app.

Making it more of a shared experience also helps reinforce educational messages and take the conversation away from the tablet – interpersonal skills are obviously very important too!

My thoughts

I love both of these new features. It’s great to know what Dylan and Xander have been up to. The addition of conversation starters is an excellent idea too. Having a better idea of the content they’ve been reading, watching or playing helps me decide how to manage the time I allow them.

I gave both boys free rein and, unsurprisingly, they spent the bulk of their time on apps. This has made my mind up to be stricter with using the settings to establish educational goals. From now on, they’ll have to to complete a set amount of time reading books before games are available to them.

Similarly, it helps me keep a tab on whether content is suitable for them. Of course, everything on Amazon Fire Kids has been carefully curated and is safe for children. But this doesn’t mean that everything is for everyone.

I can use the details in the Parent Dashboard and the boys’ answers to Discussion Cards to determine whether it is right for them.

To give another example, they both tend to stay in their comfort zones with apps that are for younger children. I can now block these and encourage them to try out something a little more challenging.

All in all, the new features on Amazon Fire Kids Edition have further enhanced what was already a great product.

If you’re looking to get a tablet for your kids, consider one of these.

Disclosure: I was given a new Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet to assist with reviewing these new features.

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