Parental Control and Tablets: Myth Vs. Reality

If he or she hasn’t already, your child is definitely going to ask you for a tablet for Christmas, and it’s only a matter of time before you or Santa is forced to consider the varied available options on the store shelf. It is vital to choose a tablet with great care and buy one which allows you to exercise some level of parental controls, according to Michelle Mastin. In her article - Parental Controls Face Off - she has created an informative compilation of the pros and cons of three tablets - Kindle Fire, Nook HD and the iPad - to help you zero in on the right one.

Parental Control – As a Third Party App

Google Nexus 7,  Google Nexus 10 or any Android tablet for that matter, does not have a built in parental control app, and you’ll need a third party app like our own Mobicip Safe Browser for Android, Zoodles Kid Mode, Kids Place, or Funamo for that. In general, Android tablets are a great buy for their small screen size, light weight and low price.  

Kindle Fire HD Free Time

The latest software update to the 7”and 8.9” models of Kindle Fire HD is the Kindle Fire HD Free Time. It has a child-friendly interface. You can set up profiles for up to 6 children, each with their individual home screen, filtered content and screen time restriction.

  • As a parent you can also filter content for each individual child, by white listing books, TV shows, movies and apps.
  • By default, your children cannot browse the web or visit social networking sites as these are completely blocked out. We recommend, of course, that you download and setup Mobicip’s Safe Browser on the Kindle Fire as one of the allowed apps.  
  • Perhaps, the best feature of Free Time is the ability to set content based screen time limit. For example, you can provide unlimited time to read books, while you can restrict movie watching to a pre designated time limit. Or else, you can just restrict the total screen time limit.
  • Entry and exit to Free Time are password protected and your child cannot break out of it. Once time runs out, a pop-up informs you about it and you hold the option of increasing their Free Time.

Nook HD Child Profile

The Nook HD user profile makes it easy to share one single device with six people. You can have unrestricted adult profiles and set up a child profile with parental controls.

  • Child profiles show the books, movies and TV shows you have selected for them and it’s not possible for children to switch profiles as they are pass code protected.
  • Your children can customise background or desktop as it is user specific.
  • You can either turn on or off web browsing, there is no content filtering for the browser.

iPad Restrictions

Parental controls on the iPad is available in the form of a feature called Restrictions.  The restrictions you set will apply to the iPad in general. So if you and your child are using the same device then you will have to enter a pass code and disable Restrictions every time you need to access content that's off limits for your child.

Which Tablet Suits Your Needs?

In her article, Michelle compares the three tablets and here is what she says:

User accounts

  • The Nook is the only tablet where the home screen and content collection can be customized for each separate log in. Parental controls apply and can be set separately for each child’s profile.
  • On Kindle Fire HD child accounts are possible only on Kindle Fire HD Free Time. 

Child Friendly Interface

  • The iPad is kid friendly, so is the Nook HD, which makes it possible for even a preschooler to figure it out viewing the large icons for books and movies.
  • Amazon on Free Time has grouped individual characters of movies, books, TV shows and apps into one category making it easy for Kindle Fire HD users to navigate around. Even the menu has pictures and makes for eye candy.

Screen Time

  • Kindle Fire HD Free Time scores over all others on screen time limit. This particular feature is very useful when your child is back from school and home all alone.

Content Filtering

All three gadgets allow you to filter content by making a choice on books, movies, TV shows and apps through ratings.

Web Filtering

While the article is generally informative, we are a bit disappointed about Michelle’s conclusion that the ability to allow web access and then filter content is not available on any of these tablets.

Mobicip’s Safe browser creates a safe and customized internet on any iOS or Android tablet. K9 from Blue Coat Systems is another free option which offers parents the ability to provide a safe internet experience.  

We fully endorse the view that tablets are powerful learning gadgets and a necessity for children in this digital age. If you wish to allow internet access, we suggest that you install a Safe Browser such as the one provided by Mobicip to make the internet a safe experience for your child.