Let Me Tell You About Our Experience with Kindle Fires
Before I tell you about our experiences with kindle fires, I want to acknowledge that I don’t think children need an electronic device of their own. There are advantages and disadvantages to allowing them the privilege of having an electronic device. Jason and I have chosen to allow it in our house. I am not advocating one way or another for you. You can to decide what is best for your family. This information is for people considering a kindle fire.
7 years ago, for Christmas, some of my kids got ipods for Christmas. The ipods worked well, but over time, the kids began to express a desire for larger screens. This desire coincided with their love for building worlds on Minecraft. I told them that I wasn’t buying them new devices, but that if they wanted to save their money, I would consider letting them buy their own. iPad minis were not within my kids’ budgets. I began to look at the more affordable Kindle Fires. Luke was the first to buy one.
As I set up Luke’s new Kindle Fire and realized all of the parental controls available, including screen time limits, I was impressed with these mid-sized tablets. He purchased the smallest memory capacity, 8 GB with ads enabled, which was around $50. Kindle Fires go on sale throughout the year, but he wasn’t interested in waiting for a sale at the time, so he paid full price. I purchased a microSD card to expand the memory for him as 8 GB is pretty small for an electronic device.
What I have loved about the kindle fires…
Based on our experience with our first kindle fire, when the price dropped before Christmas a few years ago, we purchased kindles for the rest of our kids to replace their iPods that, because of outdated technology, struggled to function. I was thrilled with the ability to purchase a tablet for the kids for $35. And, at that time, the parental control options were far superior to apple products. (I am beyond thrilled with the new Screen Time features that apple has released. You can read more about that in a future post.)
The screens are bright. The larger displays are significantly larger than an ipod touch which is great for minecraft. The camera is only so so, but for my kids, it works fine to capture them running down the hall and being silly. That is pretty much all they use the camera for anyway.
There is a massive library of free games available through Amazon. This is a perk as opposed to buying individual games. But, not all games available on the apple app store are available through Amazon. I loved that I could add age appropriate movies from our digital amazon video library to each kindle based on the child’s preferences. My second and third, for example, could have access to marvel movies whereas, my youngest two could not.
With the addition of the micro SD cards, movies can be stored right on the card, so the kids are able to watch them without wifi, which is great when we are on long car trips. We keep the DVDs in the van at the level appropriate for the youngest child, so the big kids have been thrilled to be able to watch something other than Disney or Dreamworks cartoon movies.
I feel like the battery life is satisfactory. I haven’t actively monitored how long the batteries last between charging, so I don’t have a minute number from our experience. Aside from Ethan though, who is not proactive about charging his device, the kids never complain about battery life.
The quality of construction is great. I invested in quality cases and we have had zero issues with the screens or bodies of the kindle fires. They still look brand new.
What I have not loved about the kindle fires…
Each family can have 4 child profiles. This was a bummer for me because the child profiles allow for significantly better parental controls. Rather than being able to select specific books and movies for her, this meant that Emma’s kindle allowed for her to access to Jason and my kindle library and amazon video content. I would have much preferred the option to create a child profile for her as well. For most families, four child profiles would be plenty.
My biggest complaint is that after about 18 months, each of the devices started to give a low storage warning. The problem is that even if I deleted apps, or books, we would still receive low storage warnings, and then the apps would stop working. I spent a significant amount of time on the phone with amazon about this issue trying to resolve the issue. While their customer service is top notch, even when they took control of the kindle remotely to try to fix the issue, there was no fix. The only way to resolve the low storage warning was to reset the kindle to factory settings and reload all the content. The unfortunate part of this was that the kids lost their progress on their games. That is not tragic in the grand scheme of things, but was an annoyance for the kids. Resetting and reloading five kindles is not the way I want to be spending my time either.
I think we had the low storage issue on every one of the the kindle fires that we owned. Because of this and the fact that apple now has amazing parental controls within their screen time feature, we recently donated the kindle fires to a non-profit.
Would I recommend buying a kindle fire?
Because of the price point, I would still absolutely recommend a kindle fire for a digital reading device, or internet browser use. If you are looking for a beginner tablet for your kids, I think the kindle fire is a good option. The child profile features are extremely easy for children to navigate and the ability to set age ranges for content is fantastic. I didn’t worry about my kids’ exposure to inappropriate content with the way the child profiles functioned.
Addressing price once more, these are so much more economical that apple devices, that even if you chose to replace the devices frequently to avoid the low storage issue, kindle fires are a better financial choice. I am aware of the irony that I say this right after I told you that we just reformatted and donated ours. My child who has a learning disability utilizes an app that isn’t available on kindles in order to listen to reading material, so he was using an ancient iphone for that. My freshman has one of Jason’s old iphones, and my seventh grader, though he doesn’t get a data plan or calling yet, gets to start texting for his upcoming thirteenth birthday, so he inherited my retired iphone. In order to simplify, we went back to everyone being on an apple device so that I only have to manage one platform.
I do not regret our purchases of kindle fires. They served us well for a season and my guess is that in general, most users would feel the same. In fact, I kept one kindle for myself to utilize as an e-reader. My aging eyes prefer a screen larger than my phone when I am reading a book and a kindle fire is perfect for that.
Do you have something to add? Drop me a note and let me know about your experiences!