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Amazon Introduces a Feature to Help Parents Understand What Their Kids are Doing Online

The new Amazon Parent Dashboard goes beyond parental control.

We’re awash in devices, software solutions, and even routers that provide parental controls, and they’ve become increasingly sophisticated. Not only can web filters be applied, schedules can be created and time limits can be enforced — kids might be able to beg parents for more online time, but they’re not going to get far making entreaties to the router.

That’s all fine (well, maybe not for the kids), but it’s also not helping parents understand and relate to what their kids actually are doing online. Amazon has a solution with a feature in their new Amazon FreeTime Parent Dashboard called Discussion Cards.

Don’t worry parents — you’re not about to get a crash course on the top ten Minecraft YouTubers. Discussion Cards are being created for Amazon FreeTime, the company’s curated storehouse of kid-friendly content organized by age group, which includes content from the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, and PBS Kids. Discussion Cards will be created for individual apps, e-books, and videos, and will contain brief summaries and discussion questions parents can ask their kids.

It’s a pretty cool feature for parents, because adults don’t have much actual free time. Expecting parents to personally check out everything their kids are doing is unrealistic, but being totally disconnected can really strain relationships, leaving kids and parents with nothing to talk about. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see a parental control product that’s concerned with the parenting as much as the controlling.

Here’s how it works. As long as parents have at least one child using a device with Amazon FreeTime activated, the kids can access kid-friendly content while parents can view everything they’ve been checking out. Discussion Cards can then be called up in the dashboard, allowing parents to not just see what their kids are up to, but actually understand and be able to talk about it. Amazon has already added cards for the most popular content of FreeTime, and they’re working on making cards for everything listed.