Even though we are only a few days into 2018, the new year has brought parents two new tools for raising children in a digital age.
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
Amazon has created a fantastic new online space for children ages 3 – 12. FreeTime Unlimited is a collection of apps, games, books, and videos that have been pre-screened for content. FreeTime Unlimited is separated into three subgroups by the age of the child: 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This helps to personalize the experience for the kids by making sure they see apps, games, books, and videos are at their level. For example, younger children are not given access to content designated for pre-teens and vice versa.
There are so many amazing features to FreeTime Unlimited.
- For starter, kids are blocked from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) while using the application.
- Younger kids can search for apps, games, books, and videos using pictures while they are still developing typing skills.
- The background of the screen changes to a light blue color so that parents can be sure their child is in a safe environment with a simple glance.
- Amazon partnered with Common Sense Media to include Smart Filters. The filters ensure the content is safe AND age appropriate.
- Parents can set daily time limits on things like games and videos. Those time limits can be connected to education based goals as well. For example, videos and games can be limited until a child has completed their reading.
- In game purchases cannot occur with a parent entering a password.
There are two downsides to FreeTime Unlimited. For starters, it is not available on Apple devices (aka it doesn’t work on iPads or iPhones). It does work on Andriod tablets and phones as well as any Amazon Fire device. The second downside is that it is not free. While that’s to be expected, free would make this much more exciting. It is discounted for Prime Members though. For a single child, the cost is $4.99 a month ($2.99 for Prime Members). Families of up to four children can sign up for $9.99 a month ($6.99 for Prime Members).
You can sign up for a free one month trial or read more about FreeTime Unlimited at the link below.
The second great discovery of the new year is the Reply ASAP app. As kids become more independent, they begin to make their own choices. One of those choices can be deciding to ignore a text from Mom or Dad. Reply ASAP basically eliminates their ability to “forget” to write back to a parent or guardian. Here’s how it works:
A parent sends a message via the Reply ASAP app to their child. The app receives the message and then places it on top anything else that is already on the screen. The apps also adds an audible noise that will continue until the message is acknowledged. The noise will still be heard even if the phone is on silent. Once the message is acknowledged, two things occur. The noise stops and parents receive confirmation via the app that the message has been read. The app does not force the child to respond, but it does force them to confirm they read the message.
Similar to FreeTime Unlimited above, there are a few downsides. This app is only available on Android but an Apple version is coming soon. Additionally, there’s a small one time cost to this app as well. The fee isn’t much though and shouldn’t prevent anyone who wants to use this app from purchasing it.
You can learn more at the Reply ASAP website located at the link below:
Help @ Home is free and is available to anyone. While the project is currently being sponsored by the Chagrin Falls Exempted School District, you do not have students in the district to sign up for this weekly communication.