If you’ve got kids and they like to read, Amazon Kids+ makes economic sense. It offers access to a bewildering array of books, as well as movies, apps, music, games, and more, all for one relatively low monthly price. If you tried to buy the same number of books without Amazon Kids+, you’d quickly go broke.
But Amazon’s definition of what’s age-appropriate might not agree with yours. In any case, every child is different, and that’s a decision only you as a parent can make. But even the most relaxed parent probably wants some control over what their kid sees on their Amazon device.
That means you need to take an active part in your child’s Amazon Kids+ experience. To help you out, we’ve explained here how to filter content and keep track of what your children are doing on the platform. And be sure to check out our other guides for parents, including the Best Kids Podcasts, Best Subscription Boxes for Kids, and Best STEM Toys for Kids.
Updated May 2023: We’ve rewritten some instructions to reflect changes in Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, added instructions for controlling voice and video calling, and a new section on how to move content purchase outside of Kids+ onto your child’s device.
Create a Profile
To get started, you need to create a child profile.
- Open the Amazon Kids+ App.
- If it’s your first time using it, the Add Child Profile screen will pop up. Otherwise, select Add a Child on the homepage to add another profile.
- Enter your child’s name and birth date. Amazon uses the birth date to control what content your child sees. You don’t have to use your child’s actual birthday; just pick something close, so that the initial content will be what Amazon considers appropriate for that age.
This is where you also set a PIN number that you’ll need to remember. This PIN is required to exit Amazon Kids+ on the device. If you don’t want your child to be able to exit Kids+ on their own, keep the PIN a secret.
Once you’ve created a child profile, it can be used to sign in on any Amazon device. Your kids can read their books on a Kindle or using the Kindle app on other devices, as well as watch movies, play games, and access the web on other devices, like a Fire tablet or Kids Echo Dot.
Manage the Content
Once your child’s profile is set up, head to the Parent Dashboard to control the content your child sees. Most of the controls can be accessed through the app, but it’s often easier to set up and control Amazon Kids+ through the web interface.
The bad news is that your controls are limited. In Amazon’s words, there are “thousands of age-appropriate books, movies, and TV shows for children aged 3 to 12 years.” That’s a lot of content, and there’s no way anyone is sifting through all of it. Amazon assured WIRED that all the content is hand-curated. While algorithms might recommend related content, the pool has all been vetted by humans.
That’s not nothing, but Amazon Kids+ offers no way for parents to filter everything on their own terms. That is to say, you can block anything you don’t want your kids to read one by one, but you can’t block everything and only allow books, apps, and movies that you approve.
When I asked Amazon about this feature, I was told that this isn’t something customers are asking for. Online forums would suggest otherwise, and Google Kids Place offers this service, but this is not an option with Kids+. If you want that level of control over what your children are reading and watching, you’ll want to go with another service.
However, Amazon Kids+ does offer a few good controls.
- You can set daily use limits, as well as a bedtime after which Amazon Kids content is not available. Head to Settings> Set Daily Time Limits. (Note that Settings here refers to the Settings within Amazon Kids+, not the overall device settings.)
- In addition to setting the age range, you can also control your child’s access to in-app purchases and add content, since any content you’ve purchased (from Amazon) isn’t automatically added. To add content you’ve purchased to your kids devices, head to Explore> View Content Shared With> Child Profile Name.
- You can also monitor what your kids are seeing through the Parent Dashboard. This is the default view in the web interface and within the app.
- You can turn the browser off completely, although by default your child is limited to hand-curated, age-appropriate websites and videos, chosen “for their kid-friendly, educational and entertainment content,” according to Amazon. Head to Settings> Modify Web Browser.
- You can also control which Alexa skills your child has access to on any Amazon device in your household. Head to Settings> Alexa Skills.
- Fire tablets and Alexa devices sometimes play announcements, along with video calls, messages, and more. These are off by default, but if for some reason you want them on your child’s device, head to Settings> Manage Communications and tap Grant parental consent. If you change your mind, go with the option Hide these features on my child’s tablet. Once you’ve granted consent for the calling feature you can control access by approving family and friends.
Adding Purchased Content
If you buy something outside of Amazon Kids+, using your Amazon account for instance, it won’t automatically show up on your children’s devices. Most of the time that’s good, but if you buy a book or movie and you want to add it to your child’s devices, you’ll have to do it by hand. Head to Settings> Add Content where you’ll see a list of all your recent purchases filtered by media. To send something to your child’s device, just click the toggle button and it will be available to them. Note that this is limited to the capabilities of the device, so if your child has a Kindle, movies still won’t show up even if you approve them.
Tips and Tricks
Keeping track of what your children are up to on Amazon Kids+ can be tedious. I end up spending most of my time in the web interface, because it’s easier to control multiple profiles that way, and I can do it from my laptop without searching around for my children’s Kindles.
If your kids use the app on a device like the Fire tablet, there are some non-Kids+ settings worth enabling. I suggest turning on the Blue Shade feature, which filters the blue light on your device. To access Blue Shade, head to your device settings, then tap Display> Blue Shade.
If you’re concerned about privacy, be sure to have a look at the Settings> Security & Privacy section, where you can have some control over what’s shared using the Device Usage Data and Collect App Usage Data options.