Kindle FreeTime Adds Parental Controls to the Kindle Fire HD, But There’s a Catch

Amazon’s long promised update for the Kindle Fire HD is finally rolling out today, and it looks like it’s not going to be all puppies and gumdrops. While I am still waiting on the update, one member of MobileRead Forums already got it and he is not happy.

It seems that the parental controls in Kindle FreeTime are quite good at limiting how kids can access content bought from Amazon, but Amazon’s engineers don’t seem t have realized that Amazon is not the font of all knowledge.

The new feature FreeTime is supposed to give your kids their own profile on your Fire. Turns out its only good for Amazon content (apps/movies/books), nothing sideloaded. So while in FreeTime, you can’t access any movies you sideloaded…you know, those movies you already own that your kids enjoy?

And no photos either…my kids like flipping through photos.

And no music either.

I’m surprised at the oversight. In this day and age I would expect any parent who would buy a Kindle Fire HD and share it with kids would also have built up a decent library of movies, ebooks and music to play on it. I can certainly recall having access to a Disney movie collection as a kid, and I doubt that things will change much since then. Sure, tapes and then DVDs have gone away but the need for a collection remains.

So I am surprised that no one at Amazon considered how users might need to access stuff bought elsewhere, and I agree with the MR member above. This feature is useless so long as it only covers Amazon content.

And while I do understand how Amazon sees the Kindle Fire as their storefront, this feature was the first new one in a while in which Amazon guesses wrong about how we would want to use it.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. K H Acton25 October, 2012

    What if it’s content that you haven’t side-loaded but you added to your Amazon cloud? Can you access music that you uploaded to the cloud (it plays on the Fire as if you bought it from Amazon)?

    1. Nate Hoffelder25 October, 2012

      I bet it would work with the uploaded music, yes.

      1. SJ7 November, 2012

        If there is a way to access music in Freetime that is on the cloud/DLed to the Fire, I have not figured it out yet. There’s not even a category for music in the Freetime app. If I find a way to kludge the music to get it to play as if it is an app (Pandora?) then it cuts into my girls’ app time (they love their games), which is limited since they have homework etc. I’d also love to be able to adjust their limits by day…More app time on weekends or holiday. I am also kludging that by adding multiple profiles for the same kid.

  2. […] FreeTime is a Fire HD parental-controls update that Amazon has been promising for a while, but many owners are not too happy about it, according to The Digital Reader.  Why, because what kid in his right mind would want to use a […]

  3. Silver26 February, 2016

    I updated it and now I can’t open apps no matter what I do


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