THE guide to Kids Kindle Fires
Which Fire Kids tablet should you buy and how do you set it up? This guide will walk you through it.
For families with young kids, a tablet is one of the first screen time/gaming tools they may use. iPads are versatile and intuitive, but also fragile and expensive. Amazon Kids Kindle Fire steps in as a versatile, durable, and inexpensive option for families wanting a tablet for their child.
But which should you get? Fire 7? Fire 8? Fire 10? Fire 8 pro? What do all of these mean?! This guide will walk you through it AND help you learn how to get the best deal, how to use the Kindle Fire, and how to set it up for your child to use successfully.
This guide will contain the following parts:
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Part 1: Which Kindle Fire should you get?
Rather than tell you which one is best, I’m going to list each option and provide some information as well as which kids each model would be best for. The numbers in the Kindle names (7, 8, 10) do NOT reflect how new they are, but instead reflect the SIZE of the screen.As always, you are the expert in your child and know what is best for your family. These are suggestions and guidance but these devices are all “approved” for kids of most ages, so trust your instincts 🙂
Kindle varieties change from time to time; these are up to date as of November, 2022. All Fire kids tablets include a 2 year warranty (which includes accidental damage) and 1 year of Amazon Kids membership (which renews after 1 year for $4.99 a month). All of these tablets come in a case and include a carry handle/stand unless otherwise noted.
The Fire 7 (or as I call it, “the 7″) is newly updated and a great option for young children. It’s the smallest (7” screen) and therefore the lightest, so it is good for kids as young as 2. It has a Quad-Core processor, 2GB of RAM, 10 hour battery life, and a 16GB or 32GB capacity. I highly recommend waiting for Black Friday, Prime Day, or other major sale events. This tablet is regularly on sale for 50% off during those times. I would avoid paying full price if you can.
The Fire 8 is a very good middle ground; it has an 8″ screen so it’s large enough to watch videos, but small enough for small hands to hold. This model is being discontinued so it’s a good way to get a deal, but it is outdated. It has a Quad-Core processor, 2GB of RAM, 12 hour battery life, and 32GB capacity. I would buy this one if you want a deal and don’t want the 7 or 10 due to size reasons, but be aware it is 2 year old technology as soon as you open it. It seems this may be sold out, and will likely not be restocked since it is old tech.
This is the newest version of the Fire 8. It is still an 8″ screen so good for younger users. It has a Hexa-Core processor, 2GB RAM, 13 hour battery life, and 32GB and 64 GB capacity options. It has better graphics than the original 8 or new 7. This model is brand new and likely will not go on sale. Right now it is $150 or $180 depending on size. If you see it on sale, that’s pretty unusual for new product so act quickly.
This is exactly the same as the New Fire HD 8 except it is meant for kids ages 6+. The case is harder and less “cushy” and the automatically curated content is intended for older kids. I believe (but am not 100% sure) that the curated content automatically changes when a child is in the older age group, and you don’t have to have a Pro tablet to access that content. This means the only real difference is the case- think of a phone case versus a soft cushy case.
This is the largest of these tablets at 10″ from corner to corner of the screen. It has an Octo-Core processor, 3GB ram, 12 hour battery life, 1080p graphics, and 32GB capacity. If you have an older child who can handle a device the size of a large book, and who will use this for several years and need the good processing and graphics, this is a good fit for you. This would be unwieldy for children younger than 5. It is also the most expensive and retails for $200, but is regularly on sale for 40% off. Do not buy this for full price if you can avoid it; it is regularly on sale if you wait for Prime day or Black Friday. Any price of $120 or below is a good deal
Again, this is identical to the Fire HD 10, but with a hard streamlined case. The Pro tablets include features like video calls and limited web browsing; if you child needs a tablet for school this could be a good inexpensive option.
No matter which tablet you choose, I highly highly recommend getting a pair of bluetooth headphones. The pair I linked are our favorite which we’ve had for over 4 years. They can connect via bluetooth or audio cable, and they are volume limited to protect young ears.
Part 2: When to buy and how to get a good price
As noted above, some models will regularly go on sale, and others will not. The models that regularly go on sale are:
Fire 8 HD tablet (2020 version) (including the pro model)
Fire HD 10 Kids Tablet (2021 version, which is current) (including the pro model)
The All New Fire 8 has not gone on sale as of this writing.
A “good” price for these devices is anything in the 40+% off range. You can find some of them for 50% off. This happens regularly throughout the year but you can predict to find these prices on Prime Days, and Black Friday.
Here’s how to get additional money off: look for a trade-in option through Amazon. This is perfect if you have a Kindle and want to upgrade. These vary in their availability throughout the year. Currently, the offer is an instant gift card for your trade-in, and an additional 20% off the purchase of a new Kindle or Alexa device. The offer you receive is based on what device you have and the condition it is in. For example, my family traded in a 4+ year old Fire 8 that was functional and undamaged, and we received $25 in an instant gift card.
Part 3: Setting up your child’s Kindle
I hate to break it to you, but buying a Kindle is the easy part. Setup isn’t too bad but does require about 20 minutes of your time; make sure you set up this device BEFORE you give it to your child. It will save everyone some frustration. Here is simple step-by-step walk through of the setup process (as of November 2022):
- Open the Kindle box and turn on the Kindle (the power button is a small button on the same side of the device as the volume buttons)
- Select the language you’d like to use on the Kindle
- Connect to your WiFi
- Sign in to your Amazon account. If you bought the device through your Amazon account, it will likely already be registered to you.
- If you have an older Kindle Fire, you can restore your latest backup for this new device. If you do not, simply continue.
- Select your location notification and auto-upload preferences. These are things like having location services on (so the device knows your location) and whether you’d like any photos or videos on the device auto-uploaded to the cloud. Personally, we keep these features turned off. You can always change it later.
- Activate Amazon Kids. This is the subscription service that provides curated content on the device. One free year is included when you purchase a Kindle Fire, and it will auto-renew at $5/month after that.
- Add your child’s profile. If your child already has a Kindle Fire, you should see their profile already added. Otherwise, add them now.
This brings us to:
Part 4: Parental controls and settings
Once you add your child’s account, you will have the following options (presented in the following order during the setup process):
- First, you’ll be asked to toggle on/off some access options for your child. This includes things like being able to access Alexa and other content. Customize this as you wish. Remember you can always change this (and any other settings) later if desired
- After this, you’ll be shown a list of common apps that are not “approved” for kids, but are apps kids tend to like. This may include apps you’ve allowed in the past, or other apps like Netflix, Disney Plus, ABC Mouse, etc. The reason these require approval is they require paid subscription, personal information, a registered account, or other personal info. Add what you feel comfortable with, but you can always change it later.
- You’ll now be asked if you want to download the Amazon Kids mobile app. This is a way for you to change settings or content allowances from your phone. You can also access the Amazon Kids content from your phone directly, in case you forget your Kindle but still want to access the content. This is free, and a nice additional layer of access to controls.
- Time limits. You’ll now be given the choice to set up time limits. From this menu you can have a “bedtime” at which time the device will turn off, as well as when it is available for the day in the morning. You can also set goals like reading time; there is an option to block any entertainment content until education goals are met. These can be customized by activity, and customized by weekday vs. weekend (but not by individual day).
- When done, click your child’s avatar image that says “Launch”
Congratulations. You’ve done the easy part. Get ready for….
Part 5: The worst User Interface in the world.
“Ash isn’t this supposed to be about how to choose games and apps?” Yes, it is, and to do that we must address the elephant in the room: the UI (user interface) on the Kindle Fire is hands down the worst of any “kids” device. It is not intuitive, it isn’t user friendly, it isn’t transparent. It almost seems to be intentionally opaque. The Fire Kids is many things: durable, inexpensive, versatile, but it is not user friendly at all. This is the price we pay.
The Fire Kids tablets display “approved” content for kids, broken down into categories.
This includes things like apps, videos, audiobooks, e-books, etc. Kids can simply swipe through and open content they like. One of the major drawbacks of this device is the apps have no descriptions whatsoever. It’s hard to even know what the names of these apps are.
To make sure your child has some good go-to options, I recommend downloading content you think is a good fit for them. This way it will display in their “downloads” and they’ll have some good go-to options all in one place, or available when away from Wi-Fi. Do this by pressing on the app/book/video icon and holding down; you’ll see an option to “download” and can select that. It will then download automatically.
Here is how I decide what content to keep on our device:
- Decide what content you’re looking for. I only download videos if I’m ok with my child watching videos when using the tablet. For me, that is only ok on longer travel days, not on short trips, so I tend to only download videos when we’re about to travel. On the other hand, I’ll download any book my child is interested in since I know the books are all appropriate for their age. Most of the time when I am deciding on content, it is games and apps that I’m looking at.
- Download any and all apps that look remotely appealing. Remember: there are no written descriptions of these apps. This is a huge downfall of the Kindle UI; the only way to really know if an app is a good fit or appropriate is by opening it and playing it. For my child, I download apps that have images of things my child likes (cars, trucks, Sesame Street, etc.)
- Open an app and play it for a few minutes. I look out for the following things:
- Do I need to provide any information so my child can play successfully? This might be things like entering a child’s name, or inputting their age, which might be required before they can start playing independently.
- Does the game use more written instruction than my child can understand? Sometimes games use spoken instructions, sometimes they are written, and sometimes there are visuals on the screen to help show the instructions. Consider what is best for your child.
- Would my child be able to play this successfully? This comes down to individual kids, their age, dexterity, and many other factors. You know your child best when answering these questions.
- Is the game incentivizing daily play? I look out for things like audio cues saying “come back tomorrow!” or any sort of in-game reward for logging in and playing. These are extrinsic motivators meant to incentivize daily play and can be problematic. We want kids to feel successful in apps because they’re trying new things and experimenting, not because they’re logging in and getting a reward for doing so.
- What happens if kids do nothing or do “the wrong thing” in the game? This is yet another example of personal preference; I prefer games that do not “rescue” players from doing the wrong thing and allow them to figure things out independently.
- Would my child actually like this? I’d rather they have fewer apps but enjoy them all than flood their Kindle with a bunch of things they won’t enjoy or might feel frustrated by.
- Once you’ve decided if you’ll keep an app, I recommend downloading it so your child can access it offline. Do this by pressing on the app icon and holding down; you’ll see an option to “download” and can select that. It will then download automatically.
- VERY IMPORTANT AND VERY ANNOYING: if you want your child to have access to any “adult” apps (like Disney Plus, or anything subscription based like Osmo, Homer, etc.) you must add it from an adult profile. Yes, again, the UI of this device is the absolute worst. I get it, and I agree. Here’s what to do:
- Switch to an adult profile; do this by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen, clicking the “person” icon, selecting an adult profile, and entering your PIN.
- Open the app store on the adult profile page.
- Download the app you want your child to have. If there are multiple apps you want them to have, download them all at once if possible.
- Open the Settings menu
- Scroll down to “Profiles and family library” and select it
- Scroll down and choose your child from the Child Profiles list
- Scroll down to “Manage your Child’s Content” and then select “Add Content”
- Choose if you are adding content (an app), a website, or a video. If you are adding an app, select “share content”
- Select any apps you want your child to access. There is a “kid friendly” page, but also a “games and apps” page you can click on that shows all the apps on the adult profile.
- Click “done” at the bottom of the page. (but don’t celebrate…you’re not done yet)
- Swipe down from the top right corner of the screen and select the person icon; select your child’s icon to switch back to their profile.
- Back on the child’s profile, scroll down until you see a section called “Added for you”
- Press down on the app you want your child to have access to, and select “download”. Do this for all apps you want them to have access to. OK- now you can celebrate; you’re done now, UNLESS you want to block content- see below
- TO BLOCK CONTENT: on the same menu that allows you to “add content” you should see an option that says “remove content”. From here you can search or hand select items in the pre-curated Amazon Kids selection that you want removed from your child’s library. For example, if you do not want your child to see Blippi videos, you could search “Blippi” and remove all of that content. It must be done by hand and it is very time consuming, but it is one way to ensure only pre-approved content is available to your child. For an easier way to do this, see part 7 of my guide.
Part 6: A few app recommendations
Although it probably goes without saying at this point, finding apps on this device is really hard. I am going to provide the name of the app as best I can, but Amazon doesn’t supply the full names, so even that is hard. To find these apps, simply select the magnifying glass button in the top right of your child’s Kindle Fire (when logged in as them) and search by name.
Disney Junior Appisodes: These are mini videos and mini games based on Disney channel characters. There is a collection based on Mickey characters as well as Doc McStuffins, and probably more.
Doc McStuffins: Pet Vet: Interactive games in the Doc McStuffins universe
Sesame Street: A variety of curated mini games and videos made by the Sesame Street creators. All appropriate and relatively “educational”.
Sesame Street: Alphabet Kitchen: A fun cooking and learning game featuring Elmo and Cookie Monster.
PBS Kids Games: A variety of mini games (some good, some less good, all appropriate) within the PBS Kids universe.
Hungry Caterpillar: This is one of my very favorite games for young kids on the Kindle Fire. Unfortunately, there are several versions, and I cannot tell you the full name because Amazon doesn’t display them. My favorite is the icon that shows a Hungry Caterpillar with a red square, blue circle, and green triangle. This is one of my very favorite games for young kids. The learning is incredible. The other HC games we have are the HC app with number/letter blocks in the icon, and the icon that features a Hungry Caterpillar with a yellow sun in the lower right corner (with NO border on the image).
Hot Wheels Activity Pack: This is basically a digital coloring book and has been a favorite for 3+ years.
LEGO Juniors: A good intro to LEGO games for younger kids; probably confusing for ids under 4.
Starfall: A tried and true favorite. I prefer the iOS (iphone) version but this has most of the components delivered in the same wonderful format. It feels like an old-school Sesame Street app. Requires an internet connection
Elmo Calls: A very simple app where you Facetime with Elmo. It’s very cute for the youngest users but can be a bit glitchy. There’s also a Cookie Monster version called Cookie Calls.
Monster at the end of this Book: This is an interactive version of the wonderful book. There’s also an “Another Monster at the end of this book” version. The icon is a picture of Grover, and Grover and Elmo respectively.
Blaze and the Monster Machines: There’s several games in this franchise. I recommend playing them to make sure your child would know what to do, but overall we have enjoyed them all.
Hoopla: This is an app you will have to add as an adult. This is a great way to provide your child with downloaded ebooks, audiobooks, or videos through your local library. The selection is better than the Kindle library, in my experience.
Part 7: The absolute best trick for the Kindle Fire
The number one complaint I get about the Fire is “there’s all this trash content my kids keep downloading. How do I keep them from watching all this garbage?” And my answer is:
Turn the WiFi off. Seriously.
Whether your kid is playing at home or not, turning off the wifi means the only thing they can see is the content you’ve downloaded for them. This is why I emphasize downloading any app, book, or video you want them to have. Remember, do this by pressing and holding down on the icon, then selecting “download”.
To turn off the wifi: swipe down from the top right corner on the Kindle screen, and select the wifi symbol so it turns grey and has a line through it.