Kindle Free Time Unlimited: Can it help kids become better readers?

This week I learned about a new tablet option for kids that offers a lot of promise to expand children’s interest in reading ─ and help busy parents who are challenged to find the time to read daily to their kids. Linda is a mom of two sons ─ 3 and 5 years old. She and her husband have busy work schedules and try to keep to their goal of reading daily to their sons. They heard about a new product/service from Amazon ─ Kindle Free Time Unlimited ─ and decided to give it a try to supplement their daily reading. So far, the family is pretty happy with how it’s going.

Here’s how it works. Recently launched by Amazon (December 2012), Kindle Free Time Unlimited offers a subscription service aimed at kids ages 3-8. The service offers “all-you-can-eat” access to children’s videos (movies and TV shows), games, educational apps, and books for a monthly fee. The fees are set based on a per child rate or family rate. To use the new service, folks have to use one of the newer Kindle Fire tablets (the service won’t work on older Kindle Fires).

Here are eight cool features of the new subscription service:

  • A parental control feature lets parents set up profiles for up to six children and add time limits to control how long kids can spend reading, watching videos or using the Kindle altogether.
  • Content is screened and organized by age appropriateness ─kids and parents can browse age-appropriate content, then select what they want to see.
  • There’s plenty of content (thousands of pieces of content) including movies, TV shows, games, eBooks, and educational apps.
  • Content is drawn from well-established providers like Sesame Street, Disney, Nickelodeon, and PBS.
  • Kids can watch, play, and read any of the content available to them as many times as they want (though parents can set time limits).
  • There are no ads!
  • Kids are prevented from accessing the Internet or social media.
  • Kids will not be able to make payments within any specific apps (applications).

Linda’s family is using Kindle’s new service to supplement their home reading. They’re using the parental control option as follows: no more than 30 minutes over a 48 hour period for videos and games, but unlimited time for reading. Although their sons don’t know that their parents are the ones who have set these time limits, the boys have accepted these parameters and are selecting on their own now a range of entertainment and educational activities on the Kindle.

There will no doubt be more and more products and services of this type for parents to consider for their children in the future, given growing competition in the tablet market among Apple, Barnes & Noble, Microsoft, Samsung, etc.

If families choose and use products and services like these wisely, they will help to support their children’s interest in reading─and with greater interest in reading, children will become better readers.

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