Lack of parental controls on Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm

“Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, one of the hottest gadgets this holiday season because of its low price, has some parents bristling over the simplicity at which children can order from the retail giant and the inability to stop them without crippling the device,” Mitch Lipka reports for Reuters. “Another concern is over theft or losing the device, which can be then easily be accessed for purchases unless a user sets a password to lock the screen when it’s not in use.”

“What happens is that when you order a Kindle Fire – which differs from the Kindle reader by allowing users to browse the web, play games, video and music – it comes with your Amazon account information preloaded, along with ‘1-Click’ ordering. That means anyone who is holding that device can place an order, whether it’s their account or not. No prompts come up to confirm the purchase or ask for a password,” Lipka reports. “So that means that the itchy fingers of toddlers can click way… And that has some parents who either bought the tablets as holiday presents or already have them in their homes angry.”

Lipka reports, “St. Louis area software engineer Lance Durham says he decided to get a couple of Kindle Fires to give as presents to his children. He was loading some games before wrapping them and realized he couldn’t turn off the single-click ordering, which charges his credit card… So Durham called Amazon and says he was told the ordering from Amazon could not be disabled, and the company suggested he ‘deregister’ the device after every purchase. That, he says, caused the downloaded apps to stop working. He returned the tablets.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ill-conceived rush job. Christmas coal.

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  1. This is not by accident. This is done by design.
    This is Amazon’s business model. Unless people order lots and lots of stuff without restriction, they will lose money on the device. I have to say this is the most ill concieved business model ever. People buy Tablet for imail, web browsing, and as such. Not necessarily to buy books and apps. But, Amazon thinks everyone will buy Books and Apps so muc that it will offset their harware loss. This is total BS. Amazon investor’s should run away as fast as possible.

      1. Around the palatial halls of Amazon Headquarters, it’s not called the one-click button.

        It’s called the break-even button by the troops and the make-a-profit button by the Generals.

  2. I’m not defending Amazon in the slightest, but even if they did have the same controls as the iPad, like Apple they would still get flack because so many parents give their kids the password, or don’t bother with any sort of parental restrictions anyway, then blame the manufacturer when their kid charges a fortune. In reality, having these restrictions means nothing if the parents are idiots.

    1. But at least on my iPhone 3GS, my iTunes store password is never cached.
      I don’t know if there is a way to cache it, but I’m not sure I changed any default setting ever.
      It doesn’t look like it’s that easy on these Kindle Fire’s.

      True, if the parent’s don’t care, all hope is lost anyway.
      But if you make it so easy for people to screw up, lots will do.

  3. There’s a simple and elegant solution to this: give all children their own credits credit cards, and let free market capitalism take care of the rest.

    Attempting to regulate how children spend money can only weaken the economy, and give even more power to fat cat adults (who’s incompetence in financial matters caused the recession in the first place). Learning how to use credit is an invaluable skill everyone should learn early on, and children who cannot restrict spending to within their allowances deserve debt and bankruptcy.

    1. I think what Gcaptain intended was to tie the kids’ Amazon accounts to a prepaid credit. When the account runs out of money, the buying stops. If the kid is too young, leave the account empty. Older kids, pay their allowance in whole or part on the prepaid card.

  4. “Christmas coal” at least can be used to heat your home. It has a purpose. That Amazon turd has nothing to offer and is an insult to the tablet industry.

    So, don’t take it out on the “Christmas coal”.

  5. No better than Apple – once you turn on one click with Apple you can’t turn it off – I’m one of the lucky ones who never turned it on.. Yes I know I have the parental controls on my kids devices but if they pick up your and one click is on then they can order freely.

  6. The guy gave Kindle Fires to his kids as presents?? Why?? The iPod touch costs the same and kids actually want those! Sure, the screen is smaller, but it’s not a piece of crap like the Fire.


  7. In researching the Kindle Fire as a Christmas gift for my nephew, I discovered a way around this.

    1) If you buy a Fire at one of the many retailers other than Amazon that sell it, it won’t be registered to your Amazon Prime account. Or, if you do want to order it from Amazon, simply click the “This will be a gift” option — won’t be registered to your account.

    2) At places like CVS & Walgreens you can pick up a pre-loaded Visa/Mastercard Debit/Credit card that will work with Get it with $10 on it and set up an account. Once the $10 is blown, one-click purchases just won’t work. After that, if you want to add funds, you can add gift cards to the account just like people add iTunes cards to those accounts.

    3) Apparently you can still have the account linked to the Amazon Prime unlimited free TV/Movies from one account while having payment info from a different credit card. If you trust your kid not to watch only age appropriate content, that is…

    Here’s another method as well for those interested:

  8. [Please read in a baseball announcer’s voice:]

    And that wraps it up for this year of suffering in the wannabe OtherPad department! Every attempt to come close to Apple standards has FAILed. Every OtherPad has turned out to be a Piece of Crap! The kind you wish you’d flushed before you looked at it.

    Will the OtherPad competition ever walk up to the plate in 2012? Chances are they will, but only with seasoned experience of what it takes to come up to Apple standards, as opposed to coming down to the lowest common denominator.

    Good luck, so-called competitors! The clock starts at midnight, January 1.

    Oh and Samsung: You are soooo screwed. Consider me laughing all the way. 😆

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