Oh, Amazon. How far your Kindle Fire has fallen, HD tablet, latest of generations. How you could make a tablet suitable for adults and small children and totally neglect the teen/tween demographic baffles me. And, what is even more abysmal, is that it is marketed to those very kids.
I am beside myself.
We have three children: a 5 year old, a 12 year old, and a 14 year old. My oldest has an iPad Pro; my youngest an 8th generation Fire HD. When Christmas came around, it was a matter of choice between which of the two we would purchase for our middle child. I love the iPad, but I hate the price. When money is tight, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions.
This turned out to be the wrong decision.
In short, our 12 year old is right on the edge of content suitable for Amazon Kids (formerly known as FreeTime). We’ve had decent experiences with FreeTime for our youngest (who is five years old). However, when configuring FreeTime for our 12 year old, he was presented with content that was horribly age inappropriate.
No, Amazon, my 12 year old does NOT want to watch Ryan’s World.
The Age Paradox
So what do I do? Probably what any normal parent would do – I attempt to create a teenage account for their tweenaged child. Amazon rightfully disallows this. So I do the next worst thing.
Yep. And proudly. My son magically turned 13 in the last five minutes. I create him his own Amazon account. I tie his account as a teenage account to my family. All is going well. And then I attempt to sign into the Fire HD with his account.
There was a problem. Your email or password was incorrect. Please try again.
Well, that’s not true. I know the email and password are correct, so I try again. And again. What’s the definition of insanity?
This is Not the Tablet You’re Looking For
Apparently, you can only sign into an Amazon Kindle Fire HD with an adult account or a child account. You cannot sign in with a teenager account.
Now, you have to know something about me – I’m a stubborn, persistent software developer and application security analyst. I have over 40 years of experience being stubborn. I did not go softly into that good night. It wasn’t a good night. It was several bad nights consisting of hacks, creating various alternate amazon accounts, email accounts.
And in the end, it wasn’t even worth it.
The tablet is subpar. The app store is lacking. Even if my child were an adult, he still can’t download Among Us without installing an alternate app store. And I, as a parent, can’t install Covenant Eyes without doing the same.
Why? Just, why? Amazon, Amazon. Why have you forsaken me?
Oil and Water
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that teenagers and electronics don’t mix very well. Or they mix too well (depending on your perspective). But this is something that Apple has progressively improved with Screen Time over the past couple of years. Granted, when it first came out it was severely lacking. But now, it is an incredibly powerful tool for a parent.
With the iPad, I have the ability to manage what goes on my children’s devices. I have full control over when they can use the applications, how long they can use them, who they can communicate with. I can install third-party software to monitor usage, like Covenant Eyes. And I take all of the control away on a whim (I recently had to do this with my daughter, for instance).
I can do this with FreeTime to an extent. Throw a teen into the mix and everything falls apart. The teen is totally blocked. They just can’t use the tablet.
Amazon, You Have Failed This Family
I don’t know. Perhaps this is a good thing. Maybe Amazon just knows that teenagers are going to get around whatever controls you have in place. Throw hormones into the picture and you have the world’s most capable hackers. Perhaps disallowing teenagers on tablets is the right choice.
But it should be our choice, correct? We are the parents, after all.
Regardless, there isn’t enough of a tablet here to justify a Fire HD, anyways – even for the cheap price. All of the apps you or your fictitiously teenage children will be interested in are on other platforms. Why bother rooting your Fire when you can go buy a different Android tablet?
Or better yet, an iPad.
Save your wife. Save your kids. And save yourself from the worst tablet ever.