Is Amazon’s Kindle Kids Edition a Good Alternative to Social Media ‘Screen Time’?

Amazon released a child-friendly version of its popular Kindle e-book reader.

Amazon has released a child-friendly version of its popular Kindle e-book reader. Amazon

Amazon introduced the “first ever dedicated reading experience built just for kids” this week, with the hope that parents will spring for a child-friendly version of their popular Kindle device.

In an announcement on Tuesday, the company stated that the modified tablet will cost $109.99 and feature a battery “that lasts weeks, not days,” along with perks like an unlimited subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited with access to thousands of books. Given that this is a device for young (sometimes clumsy) users, the Kindle will also come with a case and two-year guarantee.

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“Kindle Kids Edition makes reading fun with achievement badges to help motivate readers to complete the next chapter, plus features like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder are designed to help early readers build their reading and comprehension skills,” said Kurt Beidler, director of kids and family at Amazon, in a statement. He went on to praise the product for giving young readers the ability to “bring a library of books with them wherever they go—all on a single, lightweight device.”

Amazon’s Kindle for Kids launch comes at an interesting time, given the current controversy surrounding underaged users’ “social media addiction,” which has several lawmakers considering online account restrictions. While Amazon hasn’t necessarily positioned this e-book reader as an alternative to kids’ time spent on Instagram and Snapchat, its educational features do hint at that being a goal. With tools like vocabulary builder and a dictionary, parents are less likely to ask children to put away their Kindles this holiday season.

As MIT Technology Review noted, “E-books are better than nothing,” citing a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics in which researchers found benefits of stripped back digital devices similar to the kid-friendly Kindle. However, it’s unclear whether the literary-focused launch is yet another push from Amazon in its ongoing kids’ market gain. The new Kindle follows the release of the “Communications With Kids” Alexa skill last month, which allows adults to set moderated voice requests by young users.

The new Kindle Kids Edition will begin shipping on October 30 and is available now for pre-order.

Is Amazon’s Kindle Kids Edition a Good Alternative to Social Media ‘Screen Time’?