Parental Controls Loophole in Apps: Web Links

November 27, 2015
By


It’s your friendly KF on KND Editor April Hamilton here, with a warning for parents whose approach to parental controls on their kids’ Fire tablets is setting a PIN for purchases, or simply telling kids not to buy or download any content without permission because if they do, Amazon will notify you about it.

It turns out that’s not always true.

 

How Is My Kid Getting New Apps Without Me Knowing About It?
I got this question from a friend earlier this week. He said he’d been finding inappropriate apps loaded on his 5 year old son’s Fire tablet, and Amazon had not notified him of these downloads. This seemed odd, because Amazon always sends a notification to the email address on file for any “purchase”, even if the item was free.

After I asked my friend some questions and did some research, the loophole reared its ugly head: many apps have links to the app developers’ websites built right into the app and if the Silk Browser is enabled on the tablet he’s using, a kid can tap those links to go to the developer site and download/install apps directly from the developer. If he does, all of this is happening off the Amazon site so parents won’t receive any notification of a new app being downloaded and installed.

This is one of the dangers of limiting parental controls on a child’s Fire tablet to password protection for purchases. So long as he or she still has Silk browser and WiFi access, you have no way of knowing what content is being accessed by your child online.

 

Amazon FreeTime Parental Controls: A One-Stop Lockdown Option
Amazon FreeTime is the free parental controls suite that’s built right into the kids’ edition Fire, but is also available as a free app on all other Fire tablets. From Amazon’s current FreeTime Help page:

Amazon FreeTime automatically blocks access to the Silk Browser and Kindle content stores, disables location-based services, in-app purchases, and social media features, and requires your lock screen password to access FreeTime settings or enable or disable wireless connectivity.

FreeTime lets parents specify time and quantity limits for different types of content as well. For example, you can choose to let your child have access to apps for no more than 1 hour per day, but allow unlimited access to Kindle books. You can specify that the tablet cannot be unlocked at all during certain hours, such as when your child is supposed to be sleeping or studying.

 

Avoid surprises on your child’s Fire tablet: set up FreeTime parental controls.

 

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Tech Tip of the Week: You Don’t Have To Download Everything To Your Fire or Kindle – in fact, you shouldn’t

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