Kindle tablets become babysitters — without the overtime fee

Amazon has launched a new service offering unlimited content for kids using its Kindle Fire tablets. The costs ranges from $2.99 to $9.99 depending on your set-up.

The idea is to appeal to parents who find a tablet is a great way to keep a child occupied, but don’t want the hassles of making sure they don’t rack up a huge spending bill or get suckered in by ads. It should mean an end to having to choose between leaving the child free to buy content without restriction, or having to individually negotiate every request they make to buy yet another game or TV episode. (Of course, if you are trying to teach your child restraint and that they can’t have everything, this might not be the deal for them.)

The package, Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, contains a range of popular childrens applications, books, movies and television shows. Companies whose content is in the plan include Disney, Nickelodeon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, PBS, Sesame Workshop, so between them you’ve got many well-known characters covered.

All the content has been confirmed as suitable for children, a process based partly the independent Common Sense Media group’s age assessments. There’s a themed search facility, with Amazon giving the example of a child being able to find all books, games and video relating to princesses. Unlike normal use of Amazon’s stores and apps, there is no advertising in any of the content and no in-app purchases.

The deal costs $2.99 per child or $6.99 for a family package if you are an Amazon Prime member and $4.99/$9.99 if you aren’t. Paying for more than one child simply means they’ll each have a separate profile on the device which lists the content they’ve downloaded and which keeps track of positions in books and videos. There doesn’t seem any technical restriction on simply getting a one-child package and having multiple kids use it, other than potential confusion if two kids are reading the same book or watching the same video separately and want to keep track of their place.

Having individual profiles also allows you to list the age and gender of your child: although all the content in the package will be available, these details will determine the order in which it appears when the child browses rather than searches. Parents can also mark up any of their own content on the device as suitable for their kids, at which point it will appear in the profile.

On the face of it, it’s hard to see how this brings an immediate financial benefit to Amazon. The only way this should boost revenue is if parents pay the subscription but wouldn’t otherwise have spent that much cash on applications for their kids — in which case signing up to the deal makes little sense.

Of course the deal might be enough to persuade parents to buy the tablet in the first place, though that’s not such a great benefit given that the devices are sold right around costs price and the profit comes from selling content and boosting subscriptions to Amazon Prime. Indeed, in cases where parents decide this package makes it worthwhile splashing out on a tablet just for their children to use, Amazon’s take will be fairly limited.

[Kindle FreeTime Unlimited | Kindle Fire tablets]