Note: This post is written using a style similar to my book, My Kindle Fire. The same step-by-step process with numbered screenshots is prevalent throughout my book, and I thought it would be nice to give you a taste. The book provides many other unique features to make it easier to learn things on your Kindle Fire, but this post will give you a small taste of the format.
One of the great things about the Kindle Fire is that it makes it incredibly easy to buy apps, movies, TV shows, and music. For those of us with children, however, it’s also one of the worst things about the Kindle Fire. All it takes is a tap, and before you know it, you’ve spent some serious cash on content you may not want. I realize that many argue that it’s a parent’s job to supervise children using the Kindle Fire, and I agree with that. Even with supervision though, it’s far too easy for kids to purchase items while using your Kindle Fire.
One of the ways (and the best way that I’ve found) to combat this problem is to install a free app called Kids Place on your Kindle Fire. Once you install Kids Place, you can choose which apps are available to your kids. Before you hand your Kindle Fire to a young one, you simply start Kids Place and select the apps you want them to be able to use. Kids Place prevents your kids from accessing any apps you haven’t explicitly allowed, and kids can’t disable Kids Place without entering a password that you set.
Here’s how you can use Kids Place to add some parental controls to your Kindle Fire.
Setting a PIN
Before you can use Kids Place, you’ll need to perform some basic configuration. This includes setting a PIN. Your PIN is used when you want to change any of the settings for Kids Place. It’s also used when you want to exit Kids Place and return to the default Kindle Fire Home screen.
(Each step in these walkthroughs is highlighted in a screen shot. In my book, the screen shots appear next to the steps to make it easier to follow. Limitations in the layout of my website prevent me from using that same layout here.)
- Start Kids Place.
- Tap Set Pin.
- Enter a 4-digit PIN.
- Repeat your 4-digit PIN.
- Enter a phrase that will remind you of your PIN. This will display on the PIN entry screen.
- Check Email Pin if you would like Kids Place to create an email message containing your PIN. (You must have email configured on your Kindle Fire.)
- Tap Update Pin.
The next step is to select the apps that you want your kids to be able to access. (You can edit the list of selected apps, and I’ll show you how to do that later.) When Kids Place is running, you will see a colored screen that is blank except for the apps that you’ve selected in Kids Place.
- Tap Yes in the Select Apps for Kids Place dialog to start selecting apps. (If you’ve already passed this point, see “Editing Selected Apps” later in this post.)
- Tap to select the app(s) that you want your kids to have access to while Kids Place is running.
- Scroll to locate additional apps if necessary.
- Once you’ve finished selecting apps, tap the up arrow to reveal the Status Bar.
- Tap Back to go to the main screen for Kids Place.
Using Kids Place
Once you’ve configured the apps that you want to allow and you’ve tapped the Back icon, you are taken to the main Kids Place screen. If you tap Back or Home at this point to try and exit Kids Place, you are informed that this action is not allowed. The Home screen does display briefly after this point, but a moment later, you are returned to the Kids Place screen.
Editing Selected Apps
You can edit the apps that appear when Kids Place is being used. This is useful in situations where you have children of different ages using your Kindle Fire. It’s also nice to be able to add a new app that you buy for your younger family members.
- From the Kids Place home screen, tap the up arrow at the bottom of the screen and then tap the Menu icon.
- Tap Select Apps.
- Enter your PIN.
- Tap OK.
- Select or deselect the desired apps.
- Tap the up arrow and then the Back button to return to the Kids Place main screen.
Exiting Kids Place
Once you’re ready to return to your Kindle Fire’s Home screen with access to all of your content, you’ll need to exit out of Kids Place. Once you exit out of Kids Place, your Kindle Fire returns to normal operation until you start Kids Place again.
- From the Kids Place main screen, tap the up arrow and tap the Menu icon.
- Tap Exit.
- Enter your PIN.
- Tap OK.
- Start the Kids Place app again if you want to return to a protected environment.
Kids Place isn’t perfect. For example, you can’t give your children access to a particular book or a particular video, but that’s not the fault of Kids Place. Because of the design of the Android operating system, Kids Place is limited to restricting apps only. It’s helpful that Amazon provides many kid’s books as apps instead of Kindle books, so you can give kids access to these kid’s books using Kids Place.
Even with its limitations, Kids Place will give you peace of mind when you hand over your Kindle Fire to a younger person. Hopefully, Mobile Addicts, the developers of Kids Place, will continue to improve the app. Given that it’s explicitly labeled as a beta (which typically means that it’s still in development), we can hope so. In the meantime, it’s the best parental control scenario for the Kindle Fire as of now.