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Amazon’s cynical money grab targets children | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


This weekend I spent three hours on chat and the telephone with Amazon technical support to confirm what I suspected when I first saw the new advertisements – Amazon’s new “Kids+” program is forcing customers to pay again for their children to access content that they already pay for.

What’s worse, they’re doing it in the name of children’s safety. But if we’re being honest, this isn’t at all about safety. It’s about wringing another buck from their already harried customer base. Like the constant advertisements – I mean, recommendations – that set off Alexa alerts, or the prompts to subscribe to Amazon Music when you ask your device to play a song you’ve already purchased, Amazon isn’t content with the monthly subscription to Prime you already have. They want you to subscribe to a number of corollary services as well.

And, if they can’t convince you of the value of curated content for your children on the merits of that content alone, they’ll try to force you into it.

For us this meant that our toddler, who used to be able to access age appropriate video content through his children’s version of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, can no longer access those programs through Prime video.

No more Pete the Cat. No more Clifford the Big Red Dog.

And, the one that prompted my call to customer service over the weekend, no more SpongeBob SquarePants.

Our son had been watching the SpongeBob movie on the family television, through our Prime subscription. But when other family members started using the television, and he wanted to watch the movie again, we came up with a compromise – we’d play the movie on his tablet.

I had already noticed that the episodes of Pete the Cat he watches on repeat had disappeared from the recently viewed list on his tablet. When I tried to figure out how to get it back, I’d come across the prompts to subscribe to the Amazon Kids+ service. But I hoped maybe it was just some glitch, and there was a way to still access the videos.

After all, if you exited either of the children’s profiles and logged into my profile, or their mother’s, the Prime Video app was still available on the tablet, and you could still browse all the films.

Maybe, I thought, I was wrong. Maybe the Kids+ service wasn’t a cynical money grab. Maybe it was a simplified interface for parents who weren’t tech savvy enough or just didn’t want to tweak their own parental controls. Maybe I just needed a little help to get the Prime Video app to display in the children’s profiles again.

The first agent I spoke to tried to help me get the app to display again, starting with hard reboots of the tablet and turning parental controls off and on again. Even turning off the parental controls, however, didn’t allow the app – which was still installed on the tablet – to display in a child’s profile.

After he seemingly walked away in the middle of our conversation (maybe there was a shift change) another agent took over the chat and proceeded to completely misunderstand the issue. This was even after he left me waiting for 15 minutes while he reviewed the transcript of the chat with the previous agent.

After repeating every step I’d tried before with a new agent he suggested we either log into an adult account and start the film for our son, or increase his age rating to indicate he was an older teenager, essentially turning his children’s profile into an adult family member profile. Neither of these, however, were viable options for me.

I don’t want to give a toddler access to adult accounts, with credit cards attached to them, for obvious reasons. Amazon, as we’ve noted, constantly prompts you to make new purchases and subscribe to new services, and a four-year-old will simply click “yes” to get the window to go away so he can see what he wants to see.

The other suggested work around, of increasing the age on his profile, would still prompt me to approve any purchases. But, it would also give him unfettered access to content that isn’t necessarily age appropriate. This is why we have separate viewing accounts already set up for him

and his older brother.

What I wanted was a way to use the parental controls that came baked into the Kindle tablet while allowing him access to age appropriate Amazon video content.

Finally, the third agent I spoke to, after sincerely trying to understand my issue and help me get the app working, conceded that management informed him this was a new “safety feature,” and the only workaround was to subscribe to Kids+, or, ironically, to remove the child safety features and give him access to an adult account.

The terrible thing is, on any other Android device my children can still access age appropriate Prime videos from within a children’s profile. It’s only on the Amazon Kindle device that you are locked out of the content your subscription pays for on every other device or smart TV

Amazon is essentially punishing those who chose to invest in their ecosystem, locking them out of content they’ve already paid for, and cynically doing so in the name of “child safety.”

They’re free, of course, to call it whatever they like. But that doesn’t change what it really is – an attempt to use our love for our children to force us into another monthly bill.

Cynical, honestly, doesn’t even seem strong enough.

Contact the writer at [email protected]

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