Amazon launched its Fire Kids Edition tablet with the intention of giving peace of mind to parents who hand their children a tablet and walk away. Amazon’s moderators approve everything kids can access on the device, including more than 8,000 books and 40,000 white-listed webpages. Today, the company is giving parents better insight into what their kids are doing on their tablets with the free Parent Dashboard. The dashboard lives at parents.amazon.com and can be accessed from any web browser.
The dashboard provides a breakdown of how many minutes each kid is using the tablet and what they’re doing. You’ll see how many total minutes they spent reading books, watching videos, playing in an app, or browsing online. You can also view how long they spent in particular books or videos and what websites they accessed. This feature makes so much sense that I’m shocked Amazon didn’t do it sooner. Amazon tells me the idea came from parent feedback. All parents using FreeTime, including the free version, will have access to Parent Dashboard.
Along with the dashboard, Amazon is launching what it calls “Discussion Cards.” These are sort of like CliffsNotes for adults on what their kids are doing. Each card contains a summary of whatever the book, app, or video is, as well as some questions parents can ask to start conversation. Of course Amazon also links out to the review page if you’re curious what other parents are saying about a particular item. The questions and summaries are pulled from various sources, like app developers, movie studios, teacher’s guides, publishers, and CommonSense Media, but again, Amazon’s moderation team approves everything that shows up on these cards.
The company couldn’t tell me what percentage of content these discussion cards cover, although it said it’s focusing on the most popular items at first. Even popular apps, like Minecraft, which have to be downloaded by parents, include discussion cards. With all the content moderation, it’s unlikely you’ll discover your kids doing anything crazy online, so Amazon views these new features as a way to help parents connect with their kids in the world outside the tablet.