Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Review

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is a subscription service that covers children. I normally avoid subscription services of any kind. But, I have a six year old, and suddenly it made sense.

Huxley is very tech savvy for a newly minted first grader. Last night I was reviewing a new tablet that had multiple operating systems on it. He was building a robot or something and watching me at the same time (I was projecting the tablet’s image on a big screen). I said out loud, but mainly to myself, “How the heck to I change operating systems on this?” Huxley reached over and pointed at a button that did not look like anything that would do such a thing. I pressed it. It changed the operating system that was running. After the fact, I realize that it made sense. Huxley saw it right away.

The point is, I can’t really manage the problem of putting this or that app or this or that game or this or that book or this or that video on a Kindle Fire that Huxley has more or less full access to, without actually hampering his technological development and driving myself crazy. The FreeTime Unlimited service locks down an Amazon Kindle android account, i.e., on a Kindle Fire, for use by a certain kid for access to a certain and rather large range of educational or just plain fun do-dads, books, videos, etc.

In actual fact, Huxley knows how to hack the Kindle Fire I’ve set up for him, but he also knows not to do it. He basically understands that there are safe zones and less safe zones on the Internet, and on devices, and that he actually has access to all of it but is supposed to stay in the safe area. You can get a Kindle Fire for kids and put FreeTime on it (or get a bundle with all of it together) and lock it down so the kid really can’t get out of their space. I just chose, at this time, to not take that step.

So, the subscription service, in this case, stands in for my messing around with content on Huxley’s Android device.

So, what kind of content is there and how much does it cost? First, it costs less than five bucks a month, or if you already have Amazon Prime (which I do – see “Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial”), then it’s less than 3 bucks a month, for one kid (more for more kids). So, if you figure one or two Kindle books a month, one paid for app every few months, or the greatness of using all those “free” games but with the advertising gone (i.e., the paid rather than free game) to the tune of a few a month, etc., then this service is underpriced if they provide enough stuff.

And they do. It seems that a very large portion of the Amazon Kindle literature for kids is available for free. Even the Harry Potter books. The number of apps and games is huge. The video offerings seem to mirror what we already have on our ROKU and other places, but the truth is, we simply haven’t explored that to any great degree. It is not so much movies, but rather, shorter things like some educational TV shows and age appropriate stuff from Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, etc.

When I signed up two months ago, the first month was free. I don’t know if that offer is available now, but if so, it might be worth a look.

I believe it is also possible to put the entire thing on your TV via a Fire TV, and to access it on other Android devices or Kindles. I’ve not done that. I imagine that to use Android devices you have to install the Amazon system enhancement thingie that also allows you to watch Amazon prime streaming movies and such. I will be trying to put this on a tablet, within a user account for Huxley, just to see if it is possible. I’ll let you know how that goes.

To makes sure I’m being clear and accurate, here is what Amazon says about this service:

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is an all-in-one subscription for kids that offers
unlimited access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. FreeTime Unlimited offers unlimited access to over 10,000 kid-friendly books, educational apps, games, movies, and TV shows from top brands like Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, Electronic Arts, and many more.

  • A world of content for kids to explore within a completely kid-friendly environment
  • Promote reading and math with educational apps and thousands of books
  • Best-in-class parental controls – choose what content each child sees, and set educational goals and time limits
  • Personalize each kid’s experience with profiles, and let them watch where they want to – on Fire Tablets, Kindle eReaders or Fire TV
  • Great for kids between 3 and 12 years old

In FreeTime, the background color changes to blue, letting parents know at a glance that their child is safe. Kids only see titles that have been selected for them. Younger kids can search before they know how to type by using Characters – for example, tap on “Cinderella,” “Dinosaurs,” or “Puppies”.

Personally, I think the entire search capabilities of FreeTime kinda suck. Don’t get it for the ability to search for things. Use Google for that!

While in FreeTime, kids do not have access to social media or the internet, and they can’t make in-app purchases.

FreeTime lets parents set daily time limits, or restrict certain categories – like games and video – while leaving unlimited time for reading.

FreeTime Smart Filters ensure that your child sees age-appropriate content within FreeTime Unlimited. We use input from Common Sense Media and from parents like you to ensure that pre-teens don’t get the baby stuff and little kids don’t see the scary stuff. Parents can also adjust Smart Filter settings to tailor the experience for each child.

With Learn First, parents can block access to games and cartoons until after educational goals are met. Using Bedtime, parents can control when FreeTime shuts down for the day.

Parents can create up to four individual child profiles, customize each child’s access to content from the parent’s library, and decide which FreeTime Unlimited titles will be viewable in each profile. It’s like giving each kid their very own, personalized tablet. Kids can’t exit FreeTime mode without a password.

If you have more than four kids within the age range of this product, it is possible that you are reproducing too fast. Slow down please.

Fairly new is the “child safe camera.”

Kids can take pictures and edit them by adding stickers, drawings, and more. Parents can view photos and videos taken by their children in a separate photo gallery, and have the option to auto-save to Amazon Cloud Drive.

This is not the kind of thing I normally do, but I tried it. It is not the kind of thing I normally like, but I like it. I wasn’t sure if it would go OK but we have been using it for a couple of months, and it has gone great. So, I’m telling you about it.

I bought a Kindle Fire and a kid proof case and then subscribed to the service. You can be less stupid and get a Kindle Fire with a kid proof case and the service at a massive discount.

I should note that FreeTime Unlimited has been around for several years. If you google around to investigate it, as I did, you’ll find a lot of old and out of date information. Make sure you are looking at recent discussions.

And, finally, I just want to say that Curious George is an ape, not a monkey.

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19 thoughts on “Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Review

  1. What is the difference between FreeTime and amazon underground? This would make the decision between what kindle I get for my child

    1. Underground is, I believe, simply Amazon’s version of the google play store, and at the same time, it has some other features that let you access your amazon prime benefits (if you have prime) like streaming movies. so, a Kindle Fire comes with underground in place and is the default place to get apps, etc. If you want to use Amazon prime or buy your apps from amazon on another tablet, you can install undergound.

      Free time for kids is entirely different.

  2. Can you add outside aps on this if you get the subscription? I want to add my kid’s school math and reading aps that they are assigned to do.

    1. I’m not sure, but I’ll bet Amazon lets you do that fairly easily via their customer service thingie.

  3. Do you know if I can add childrens books that I have purchased via my Prime account to the Freetime app? Or is the content limited to a certain selection they have allowed inside the app/unlimited subscription? There are hundreds of books my son would love to have access to that available for purchase on Kindle, but before I purchase the FreeTime app/unlimited subscription, I want to make sure he would have access to those as well as any content that comes with the unlimited subscription.

    1. I don’t know if you can do that, but I don’t. My first grader simply has access to the whole kindle … the Kindle tablet is simply a tablet and can be used as such, and thus, unless you restrict access, anyone can use the kindle reader and thus access those books. (I’ve got quite a few books for the kiddo as well.)

      One might think it is better to restrict access etc, but I think that is only important for little kids who might break something. For kids who are old enough to use the technology, there really is not protection even if one thinks there is. No tablets, phones, or computers in private spaces, everything is used in the room with adults. That’s the only protection.

      To determine the age at which kids are technologically savvy, use this formula:

      [Age you think a kid might be a little savvy] – four years.

  4. Yes, you can add anything that you already have purchased from Amazon to free time. You link it to your Amazon account. It seems fairly customizable, in that you can add anything you want, and take away anything that you don’t want.

  5. Funny, my name is Becky, and I was going to post the same information as above. You just add what you want to your profile, and you can then add it to your child’s profilel

  6. We just purchased the kindle fire for our kids. We set it up and subscribed to the Freetime Unlimited. Has anyone had a problem with the kindle freezing up on the free time app? It has happened on both kids kindles, so last night I uninstalled freetime unlimited and had to restore the kindle to factory settings, and start all over. I guess I’m confused as to how this freetime unlimitd app works. I assumed that you can go in and out of it like any other app you would use.

    1. I was taken aback by that comment as well. Completely unrelated to the article and quite unnecessary, and possibly hurtful to some. No idea why someone would say something like that. I loved and appreciated the review, with the exception of that.

    2. We are in the same place with foster-adopt children and need more than 4 child accounts. I wish Amazon would expand this as well.

  7. Do you know if you can have one subscription on more than one device? If you are “logged in” with one user name on two devices? I’d like to get this for my 9 year old to use for reading on just the e-reader, but it’d be nice to allow my 6 year old to have access to the app/tv services on his kindle fire too. Do you know if it is possible?

  8. This was an incredibly useful breakdown. As a tech-friendly dad I really appreciated the “how I normally do things” vs. “what this offers” parallel.

  9. Can you track how many minutes a child reads a book? And how many books? Also- how can I see the Library of titles? Are there Spanish titles?

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