Amazon has introduced new tools for parents to help them stay better informed about what their kids are watching, reading, and doing within the FreeTime service. The company is making a parental dashboard available, along with discussion cards, in the hopes that it’ll get adults to “talk to their kids.”
Parents don’t need to download a separate app to use the dashboard — they can just log in using their Amazon credentials to see all the profiles that have been previously set up in FreeTime. This is the first time that such analytics have been provided, and the tool provides a snapshot of how much screen time a child has used and how that breaks down across books, videos, apps, and websites. Parents can also drill down deeper into any category to understand their child’s reading activity over the past seven to 90 days.
Amazon FreeTime is a kid-friendly service aimed at those between three and 12 years of age. Children are able to explore through whitelisted books, videos, apps, games, websites, and YouTube videos through their account. Kurt Beidler, the company’s director of kids and family, told VentureBeat that the goal is to “help kids be independent, play, explore, and learn without help from their parents.” Amazon believes that caretakers will value the peace of mind of knowing that their children won’t be exposed to violence, inappropriate content, or excessive screen time when using FreeTime.
Beidler stated that more than 10 million kids use FreeTime, along with the premium version FreeTime Unlimited. The former only allows access to websites, while the latter adds in books, videos, and apps.
While children get their fun time on a tablet, and hopefully learn something, FreeTime still operates in a silo, whereby parents have essentially remained in the dark, not knowing what is being consumed. This dashboard could help because it doesn’t require pestering kids to find out what they’ve read. Instead, parents could ask more insightful questions about the theme of a book or video, character development, details about the writer, and more.
An important tool behind this new feature is the new discussion cards, which offer concise 1 to 2 screen summaries of most of the items in Amazon’s FreeTime catalog. Selecting a card shows you details about a book, video, app, or game title, along with sample questions that parents can ask their children. So a discussion card for “National Geographic Readers: Cats vs Dogs” might display questions like “What’s the difference between a canine and a feline?” or “Which pet would you like and why?”
“As kids learn and play more independently with their tablets, we want to provide parents with more ways to join that digital discovery,” Beidler explained. “Discussion cards equip parents with information about an Amazon FreeTime book, video, educational app, or game their child is enjoying and provide open-ended questions that parents can ask kids to spark conversations…”
Both the parental dashboard and the discussion cards are available in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Germany, starting today.