I just set up the new Kindle Fire from Amazon.com and one of the first things I noticed while trying it out is that the new “free streaming video” feature for Amazon Prime customers does not have parental controls. R-rated movies and are available for unlimited free instant download. On the television offerings, you have Sesame Street and Arthur available alongside Lost, 24 and HBO shows like The Tudors. This programming is available without any login or password as long as the Kindle Fire is registered to an Amazon.com Prime customer. With this device, Amazon has gone beyond making an e-reader to take on the tablet computer market by offering and attractive $199 competitor to the iPad.
Amazon needs to make customizable parental controls available to sort this all out in a common-sense way. Lost is my favorite series of all time but it doesn’t mean I think my kid is ready to watch it. I am all for free streaming video but make it possible for to me organize content in a way that makes sense for my family! This is not rocket science and am I disappointed that Amazon is so behind the curve on this one, possibly in the rush to get the Kindle Fire to market for the early waves of holiday shopping. Here is the email I just sent to Amazon.com customer service:
Dear Amazon, I have owned every generation of Kindle device and I rely on it for many purposes, including family reading at home and while traveling. My daughter owns dozens of young adult books for Kindle. After buying the Kindle Fire and playing with it, one of the first things I noticed is that the free streaming video for Amazon Prime customers includes many R-rated movies, available for immediate download. You need to add customizable parental controls to the Kindle Fire. I can’t give it to my daughter with confidence if she’s going to have access to this content when she is reading on her own. There are likely other similar issues with the device that you need to work through as soon as possible. I would suggest a software solution that allows owners to create individual profiles for each user, with password protection and different levels of privileges, including books, video, and internet access (on or off), as well as the ability to purchase products or not.
I am disappointed that you did not think of this before the initial product release, but I will not give the Kindle Fire an instant negative customer review because of it, because I have confidence that you can and will address this problem with a software update.
You deserve a lot of credit for creating, in Kindle, a device that has become an integral part of our family’s life in the last few years. Please take seriously your opportunity and responsibility to keep it that way. I would give my daughter a book to read in private; I would not allow her to have a computer or TV with private access in her bedroom. You need to allow customers to have control of the device, to partition its many functions for family use.
I look forward to your reply, and future action.
Amy Tiemann, Ph. D.
Prolific Amazon.com customer since 1996, Vine Voice, author, and creator of MojoMom.com and DoingRightByOurKids.com
Cross posted from the DoingRightByOurKids.com blog.