The lack of intricate parental control options has been a popular complaint about the Kindle Fire since about the time it was released. Amazon has made some moves to address the most pressing issues. We haven’t heard any horror stories about people going into debt over Smurfberry purchases, for example. Still, until Amazon comes up with more options that allow parents to manage how these devices are used, there is going to be a steady stream of complaints. Funamo has stepped up to handle that need in the meantime, for a small fee.
At $20, this is not a cheap application. Not only that, Funamo is not yet available in the Amazon Appstore for Android. This means that it needs to be purchased through the developer’s website. The hassle and expense may be worth it considering what can be accomplished by having it around.
The default settings are fairly straightforward. You install Funamo and log in, after which the device settings will be completely locked out. It comes with its own web browser, which has all the usual things one would expect parents to want to keep blocked already cut off, and encourages users to put the Silk browser onto the “Protected Apps” list. Besides that, everything else is up to the user.
This isn’t just a matter of locking out certain content, either. Yes, it is likely that many parents would approve of the ability to block porn viewing from their child’s tablet. Using Funamo, it is also possible to say that the same child’s favorite games will only be available between 9am and 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Parents can set limits on everything from media viewing time to reading. Many will even be quite encouraged to note that it is possible to block the Kindle Fire’s access to the Appstore entirely when desired.
Any of these settings can, of course, be overridden with a password. You never know when exceptions to the normal rules might be in order. They can also be changed on short notice as well, and not only from the Kindle Fire itself. Nightly syncing allows parents to maintain control through any internet-connected browser.
Through this web interface, it is possible to add, change, or remove access restrictions. It is also possible to view a detailed history of everything that has been done on the tablet recently. If a child does something unexpected that the parent never thought would come up, it is a simple matter to adapt the rules to cover the new situation. While the Kindle Fire does not support Push updates, Funamo is set to sync up nightly by default.
At a glance, this seems to be slightly overprotective. Users are encouraged to take control of literally every aspect of their kid’s tablet experience. That sort of control is precisely what many parents are looking for, however, and if this allows the child to enjoy ownership of their own Kindle Fire where it would otherwise not be allowed, it is probably worth the hassle for everybody involved.