December 5, 2012
Amazon’s FreeTime Offers Flat Rate For Library Of Kid’s Media
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
When Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire offerings in September, they also introduced a new parental control feature called FreeTime. In FreeTime, kids can only see the content their parents have enabled, keeping them away from the web browser, email, R-rated movies and, perhaps more importantly, the app store.
Today, Amazon has fixed this problem by offering up a buffet of kids content through FreeTime Unlimited. Once subscribed, “hundreds of thousands” of books and movie titles, apps and games are opened for children within FreeTime Unlimited, circumventing the discussion between children and their parents about what they can and cannot buy.
Amazon has worked deals with some large children´s entertainment providers — such as DC Comics, Disney, HIT and Nickelodeon — to offer up a treasure trove of curated content just for kids. All the content available within FreeTime Unlimited has been selected for children ages 3 to 8.
"As a parent it´s hard to predict what my daughter is going to enjoy, or which movie she´s going to watch 50 times in a row — so I buy a range of content and hope for the best — but I get it wrong frequently," admitted Peter Larsen, Amazon´s vice president.
By opening up the doors to this content, Amazon hopes parents will opt to pay a monthly fee rather than try to understand what their children would rather read, play or watch.
"We're trying to solve the problem for parents that, there's so much content out there — half of which I don't know if my kid is going to like or not like — and quite frankly is very expensive,” said Larsen in an interview with Mashable.
As any parent can attest, sussing out what their child is (or will be) interested in can be tricky. This becomes even more difficult when there are multiple kids in the house, and juggling content for more than 2 children can be a chore.
Amazon is also including a family plan for their content which supports families with as many as 6 children. With a family plan, the content changes according to the child´s age. For instance, when a 7-year old enters into FreeTime on a Kindle Fire tablet, it will see content geared for a child his age first rather than content geared for his 4-year old sibling. The entire library is open to any child using FreeTime Unlimited, but Amazon places titles at the top of the queue based on the child´s age and gender.
"We made the decision — and it was kind of a tough one — to not take away content," explained Larsen.
"We thought if you're paying the subscription, you should get it all. And who knows? Your four-year-old kid might be reading at a seven-year level. But we filter it based on age and gender. If your kid is three, he shouldn't be seeing content that's appropriate (for) an eight-year-old, which will be way down. Unless they use it."
Parents can also monitor what their children are watching (as well as keep track of bookmarks and paused videos) through the user preferences, helpful if more than one child is watching the same movie but not at the same time.
FreeTime Unlimited will become available to Kindle Fire owners via an over-the-air software update which Amazon says will begin rolling out “in the coming weeks.”
In an interesting move, Amazon has not included this unlimited supply of children´s titles for their Prime subscribers.
FreeTime Unlimited will cost $4.99 for a single child or $9.99 each month for a family of up to 6 children.
Prime members do get a discount: FreeTime Unlimited for Prime members will cost $2.99 per child or $6.99 for 6-children families.