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I Love White Water Kayaking avatar image
I Love White Water Kayaking asked

Is it possible to augment the parental controls or FreeTime?

Hi, I'm a software developer on other platforms (Windows drivers, embedded hardware, Linux). My 13 year old son purchased a Kindle Fire HD 7 with his own money last week and as I started trying to set it up for him, I was quite disappointed in the available parental controls and in the FreeTime feature. They work but leave the kindle almost unusable or very disappointing experience for the child. My other son who is a couple years younger bought one too, but after seeing the FreeTime limitations on his brothers Kindle Fire he said he wanted to send his back when it arrives and save his money for something more fun. This prompted me to look int app development for the Kindle Fire to see if there was anything I could do to fill the void. [b]My question is:[/b] Is it even possible to do any of this at the app level or should we just hope it improves in then OS someday? More specifically: Are there any hooks into the system or API's where it would be possible to augment parental controls or FreeTime or implement user profiles? Would it be possible to implement an alternate version of FreeTime that is less restrictive? Are there any APIs that let you work with the Amazon catalog of products to offer a curated shopping experience? Here are some of my thoughts and details on what I'd like to accomplish (or should be implemented on the OS): After browsing a lot of forum posts, it seems this has been a long standing deficiency in the platform. It seems to me that Amazon is missing out some huge potential profits by not implementing a full featured content based parental control mechanism. FreeTime is great for small children but frustrating and cheats older children out of the kindle fire experience. In my experience no platform does a good job of implementing parental controls. The best I've found so far is in the Xbox because it at least supplies hooks for content based parental controls to work in apps such as Amazon instant Video. I'm not talking about browser filtering, I think that best place for that is a third party app beause it's a difficult problem, but media ratings (at least for Movies, Music, Games and TV) are pretty well defined and widely recognized. The deficiencies I see: 1) Teen Profiles are no different from regular FreeTime profiles. FreeTime is clearly designed for young children. The FreeTime environment is too limiting for older kids who are still to young for their own Amazon accounts. 2) If I have a bunch of media I've purchased for my children, I can't share it with them unless they are on my account 3) Parental controls are all or nothing, I can't give access to the app store without giving them access to everything 4) There is no content based filtering on any media What I'd like to see: 1) Full fledged user profiles with the ability to enable or disable any app or feature of the device (e.g. specific apps, browsing, email, instant videos, shopping, etc...) on a per profile basis 2) Content based granular parental controls allowing the parent to choose how fine grained the control should be (simple as "young children" or as specific as "allow PG-13 movies but exclude all PG-13 movies with suggestive themes") so an older child can browse within a reasonable boundary (e.g. R or TV-MA titles wont even show up in searches or suggestions if they are above the max allowed level) a) TV and Movie and Game ratings i) optional drill down for rating content (e.g. language, suggestive themes, violence, ...) b) Book content ratings (I realize there isn't a standard, but there are several projects that attempt to do it and could be leveraged) c) white/black list exceptions for every media category 3) the ability for the parent to temporarily block access to certain content (e.g. if they are grounded but need to kindle to read homework so only specific books could be read) 4) More granular control over time spent 5) some warning for the child when a time limit is approaching expiration This may be off topic somewhat but related... what I'd really like to see implemented is: 1) Child accounts tied to and managed by parent accounts that share household media and can eventually turn into full fledged accounts where the child can take his subset or the household media collection with him. 2) True household accounts with equal sharing of media (optionally curated by the parents of course) This opens up a new range of scenarios: The ability to allocate a preset budget or (add gift cards) to a child account so the child can shop on their own (obviously some filtering criteria for products would be useful here as well): 1) The parent could optionally receive notifications for the child's purchases and approve or deny them 2) The ability for a parent of a younger child to create a pre-approved list of available items or media and allow the child to shop from the list safely Sorry to write a book here but parents are begging for useable and effective parental controls and it seems there is a huge untapped market here. Amazon could be the leader in this market; these changes should really be integrated into the OS.
fire tablet
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Carol Rauch avatar image
Carol Rauch answered
I agree with many of the disgruntled customers of the Kindle Fire and the Free time control. There should be a way for parents to allow in-app purchases with a password. We will be returning 3 kindle fires for android tablets. NOT HAPPY AT ALL!!
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Nick Gardner avatar image
Nick Gardner answered
Hi, There are not any APIs or system hooks available for FreeTime. As a developer, there is nothing one needs to do to make an app FreeTime enabled, and all the features are implemented automatically for apps submitted in the appstore. Thanks for your suggestions for how to improve FreeTime, and I'll be sure to pass them onto the appropriate team.
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K. Ulonska avatar image
K. Ulonska answered
I completely agree. I have things I've purchased for our 5 year old, but they won't transfer to the EXACT SAME game in his Free Time profile. If I want him to use them, he has to use my profile, which renders it pointless for Free Time. Also, just because someone else has decided that ALL of the available kid's content is appropriate, that doesn't mean that *I* do, and I don't want my young son to be able to access some stuff without my knowledge. Why don't I have the ability to completely delete an option??
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