Amazon FreeTime

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Amazon FreeTime App Poster Image
Robust parent controls for Amazon subscription service.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Learning is only as good as the content provided, but parents can choose to set times where kids can only access the educational content. They can also set goals for the amount of time spent on it. With a diverse set of educational TV shows, books, and apps, there's plenty of age-appropriate learning that can take place. Kids also can start to learn about setting their own screen-time limits as they use the app.

Ease of Play

Setup isn't trivial, but it's straightforward. The kids' area is easy to navigate but lacks a search function. Non-readers may need some assistance in understanding the different tabs.

Violence & Scariness

Violence increases slowly as the age range increases (i.e., Frozen vs. Harry Potter, WordGirl vs. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). All the content is selected by Amazon to be age-appropriate. Parents can adjust the age restrictions for each child to make sure they're comfortable with what's shown.

Sexy Stuff

While some of the media for older kids may contain kissing and flirting, all the content is selected by Amazon to be age-appropriate. Parents can adjust the age restrictions for each child to make sure they're comfortable with what's shown.

Language

While some of the media for older kids may contain mild language, all the content is selected by Amazon to be age-appropriate. Parents can adjust the age restrictions for each child to make sure they're comfortable with what's shown.

Consumerism

In addition to this being an app for a subscription-based service, much of the content reflects popular media franchises. No overt ads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

While some of the media for older kids may contain mild substance use (light social drinking/smoking, allusions to mind-altering substances), all the content is selected by Amazon to be age-appropriate. Parents can adjust the age restrictions for each child to make sure they're comfortable with what's shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amazon FreeTime is an app that's meant to be paired with the subscription-based Amazon FreeTime Unlimited service that provides e-books, apps, and video content for kids age 3–12. Supporting up to four kids, parents can control what media kids can access via the app and remotely from their own device. Depending on the age settings parents use, violence, substances, sexual content, and language vary, though all content is intended for kids. Different devices support different media types, but the Android app allows access to books, movies/video, apps, and a browser. Kids are locked in when they enter the app, but there is always an emergency phone dialer available in a few clicks, so parents will need to keep an eye on that with little ones. If no connectivity is available, parents or kids can download content and use the offline mode. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared. Note: Amazon is one of Common Sense Media's paying content partners, but its app was reviewed by an independent writer.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byJodi C. December 29, 2017

To many apps offered with subscription

There are hundreds of apps placed onto your child's profile. They all need downloaded, and can be at the child's discretion. The apps are so diverse,... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 12 year old Written bySteph R November 28, 2017

Not good for unconnected travel

We bought kindles with freetime thinking they would be great for travel when we don't have internet. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's it about?

AMAZON FREETIME requires families to create a "Household" on at least one parent account; up to two parents can be attached to any Household. They can then add up to four kids with their ages so each one can have their own age-appropriate content. Once that is set up appropriately and the app is installed and connected to an adult's Amazon account, they can begin to customize settings for each child. Though it will automatically set the content based on the age provided, parents can adjust the settings up or down based on their kids' needs and their family's values. To shut down device use, parents can set a range of time (called bedtime) when kids aren't able to use the device and can set time goals for the use of educational content, though there's no way to specify exactly what the educational content is. They can even check a box that won't allow kids to use any content until they've met the educational goals. Also, parents can limit screen time as a whole or limit the amount of time spent reading, watching videos, using apps, or browsing the web. To get even more specific, these can be broken down between weekday limits and weekend limits. There's also an app-based web browser that parents can entirely disable or limit by adding specific URLs and web-based videos. If they want to check on what their kids are seeing, they can check the browsing history. Parents who want more fine-grained options can add certain books, videos, websites, and apps that the kids can access from the device or online. Lastly, they can set restrictions on in-app purchases.

In terms of the kids' experience, they can't search but can browse by characters (Dora, Harry Potter, and so on) and topics (Adventure, Science). They also can see their goals, if any, and when they meet them. If they have a block on non-educational content, they can only see the apps, videos, books, and sites they are allowed to enjoy at the time. For safety purposes, kids can access an emergency phone-dialing option.

Is it any good?

This fantastic set of parental controls is finely tuned and specific enough for all members of the family, but compatibility with more devices would be helpful. Amazon FreeTime is exactly what parents of young kids want: It locks down the device and creates a safe free-exploration zone for kids. The content is moderated by Amazon based on age, but parents have additional options for choosing exactly what their kids can -- and can't -- see. Even better, they can provide age-appropriate media for your 6-year-old, while also catering to your 3-year-old, all on the same device. Once all the settings are in place, the kids' area really shines. It's easy to navigate, and older kids will enjoy the goal-setting as an inspiration to spend more time on educational content. While it's great to have the emergency access, it would be great to have a simple gate for really little kids. And the ability to specify what you consider educational content would be nice. But overall, it's just the sort of thing to make parents' lives easier, especially when the kids are young and especially if parents help guide kids to regulate themselves as they grow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about using screen time wisely. Help kids think about the time they have and what they would enjoy doing most. They can even make their own screen-time budget to ensure they have time for all the things they want to enjoy. How might Amazon FreeTime help?

  • Talk about what content kids love the most. What is their favorite thing to do, watch, or read in the the app? Why?

  • Discuss how to use the parent controls less and less over time so kids learn how to regulate themselves.

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