If you’re thinking about buying your kid their very first tablet (or tech of any sort), you’ve probably got two key concerns: durability and parental controls.
I was really nervous to buy my son his first tablet for these two reasons specifically, but I eventually settled on an Amazon Fire tablet (and this was long before I started reviewing them).
I’ve been really impressed by Amazon’s offerings for kids, and the Fire HD 8 Kids is another solid addition to the lineup. It checks the two essential boxes for a kids’ tablet: it’s pretty kid-proof (knock on wood), and it’s got some beefy parental controls to boot.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids consists of the newest gen Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet housed in a protective, kid-friendly bumper case.
Compared to the previous gen Fire HD 8, this tablet features an improved 2.0 Ghz Quad core processor (previous gen: 1.3 Ghz), 2 GB of RAM (previous gen: 1.5 GB), and a standard 32 GB of storage (previous gen: 16 or 32 GB).
It also has 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras, and an 8-inch, HD display. It’s noticeably clear, bright, and vibrant (even when smudged with kid fingerprints and mystery grime).
My 6-year-old’s first tablet was the Amazon Fire 7 Kids, and this one is definitely faster. The extra inch of display also makes it seem much roomier, whereas the Fire 7 Kids has always seemed a little on the cramped side.
Within the context of Amazon Kids+ features (games, books, and videos), the tablet performed flawlessly and without a hitch.
It’s got a surprisingly long battery life, too — up to 12 hours. And although we haven’t been able to get the full 12 hours out of it, it’s great for long car rides because there’s so much offline content available, and the battery drains so slowly.
We also use the tablet for my son’s video lessons for school. The parental controls through Amazon Kids+ allow me to add this one website for him to be able to visit, while blocking all other browser functions and not allowing him to navigate to any other site.
However, the built-in Silk browser is a bit of a weak point of the Fire tablets. It’s a bit slow and clunky, but — for my son’s school videos — it gets the job done. Most of the speed issues I encounter are when navigating the website, but streaming through the browser has been fine.
The Fire HD 8 Kids comes with a rubberized bumper case that protects it on all sides from drops and bumps (and even bites). It’s bulky, but for good reason — your younger child is gonna have a really hard time damaging this tablet unless they take a baseball bat to the screen or submerge it in water.
Even then, it also comes with Amazon’s 2-year “worry free guarantee” — so you’ll be able to get a no-questions-asked replacement if it breaks within 2 years of purchase.
And your older kids and tweens can opt for the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro, which features a sleeker, thinner case that looks way cooler (but offers the same level of protection as the bulkier one for younger kids).
While I love love love the case, what I really love about Fire tablets for kids is Amazon Kids+. It’s a subscription service full of curated, kid-friendly content for all ages (up to age 12).
My son has never complained about the selection on his tablet. No matter what he feels like reading, watching, or playing (lately it’s anything related to tornadoes), he’s always been able to find something on Amazon Kids to capture his attention.
BUT, where Amazon Kids+ really shines in my opinion is in the greatly expanded parental controls it offers. (You can put parental controls on a regular Fire tablet with no Amazon Kids+ subscription, but they’re pretty limited in what they can do.)
With Amazon Kids+, you can set time limits that will disable the tablet between certain hours or after your child has reached a certain screen time threshold. You can also set daily goals for educational content, and block entertainment content until all of the education goals have been met.
You can set an age range to show the best content for your child’s age, too. I’ve got it set to content for 4-8 years of age for my 6 year old, which according to Amazon includes over 23,000 unique pieces of content.
And so they can learn how to use a web browser but stay safe from the internet at large, you can also enable the browser — which offers access to websites prescreened by Amazon or sites that you’ve approved yourself. Right now, my 6 year old is only allowed to go to websites that I’ve manually added, but I think the ability to control how much or how little browser access they have is a great option for older kids.
Finally — and this is the biggie — you can completely disable in-app purchases on child profiles, too.
Your purchase will come with a free one year subscription to Amazon Kids+, and after that an individual child membership costs only $2.99 per month (for both Prime and non-Prime members).
At $139.99, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids is the right price for an intro tablet for your child, and offers some serious parental controls and a curated, kid-friendly experience through Amazon Kids+ (along with a case that can take a beating).
For older kids, the Fire HD 8 Kids Plus is the same price and features a slimmer case that still offers a good deal of protection.
I can’t imagine giving my six year old a tablet without thoroughly locking it down, so Amazon Kids+ is a huge benefit. And, the price is right for a device that your child will probably try to chew on or use as a plate at some point. I also like that there’s so much room for growth in the parental controls — you can ease them up as your child gets older and learns to use their device more responsibly, but lock them down for younger kids who will click on anything and everything.