The Amazon Kids “parental controls” are extremely insufficient, and I strongly advise against getting any of the Amazon Kids series.

The initial permise (and some older reviews) look okay: you can set some time limits, and you can disable anything that requires buying. With the hardware you get one year of the “Amazon Kids+” subscription, which includes a lot of interesting content such as books and audio, but also some apps. This seemed attractive: some learning apps, some decent games. Sometimes there seems to be a special “Amazon Kids+ edition”, supposedly one that has advertisements reduced/removed and no purchasing.

However, there are so many things just wrong in Amazon Kids:

  • you have no control over the starting page of the tablet.
    it is entirely up to Amazon to decide which contents are for your kid, and of course the page is as poorly made as possible
  • the main content control is a simple age filter
    age appropriateness is decided by Amazon in a non-transparent way
  • there is no preview. All you get is one icon and a truncated title, no description, no screenshots, nothing.
  • time restrictions are on the most basic level possible (daily limit for weekdays and weekends), largely unusable
    no easy way to temporarily increase the limit by 30 minutes, for example. You end up disabling it all the time.
  • there is some “educational goals” thing, but as you do not get to control what is educational and what not, it is paperweight
  • no per-app limits
    this is a killer missing feature.
  • removing content is a very manual thing. You have to go through potentially thousands of entries, and disable them one-by-one for every kid.
  • some contents cannot even be removed anymore
    “managed by age filters and cannot be changed” - these appear to be HTML5 and not real apps
  • there is no whitelist!
    That is the really no-go. By using Amazon Kids, you fully expose your kids to the endless rabbit hole of apps.
  • you cannot switch to an alternate UI that has better parental controls
    without sideloading, you cannot even get YouTube Kids (which still is not really good either) on it, as it does not have Google services.
    and even with sideloading, you do not appear to be able to permanently replace the launcher anymore.

And, unfortunately, Amazon Kids is full of poor content for kids, such as “DIY Fashion Star” that I consider to be very dangerous for kids: it is extremely stereotypical, beginning with supposedly “female” color schemes, model-only body types, and judging people by their clothing (and body).

You really thought you could hand-pick suitable apps for your kid on your own?

No, you have to identify and remove such contents one by one, with many clicks each, because there is no whitelisting, and no mass-removal (anymore - apparently Amazon removed the workarounds that previously allowed you to mass remove contents).

Not with Amazon Kids+, which apparently aims at raising the next generation of zombie customers that buy whatever you tell them to buy.

Hence, do not get your kids an Amazon Fire HD tablet!