Not long ago, I was watching Hulu when an intriguing ad came across the screen. In it, a child was using an Amazon Kindle Fire, and the announcer explained a key feature of the device: parental controls. They allowed parents to block access to certain content, set time limits, and more.
Surely such a thing exists for vanilla Android, I thought.
Indeed it does, in the form of KIDO'Z. I've used KIDO'Z in the past, as a browser on the kids' computers. Fast forward to today, and KIDO'Z has evolved into a full-fledged child-friendly environment for many platforms.
As far as the Android version, it was almost precisely what I was looking for. Once launched, it takes over the entire tablet experience.
Setup is pretty easy: choose a password, add an account for each of your kids, and choose which apps you want them to have access to by checking apps on or off from a simple list. Apps that you check will show up on the KIDO'Z homescreen; those you haven't, won't. These app lists are child-specific, too, which is very handy if you have kids who are a few years apart in age.
In addition to the apps you select, your kids will also have access to KIDOZ's bundled apps: a web browser, 'KIDO'Z TV,' and 'KIDO'Z Games.' Each app's content can be restricted as you see fit; by default, KIDO'Z provides a good selection of child-friendly channels, websites, and games for the TV, browser, and games apps, respectively.
If your child tries to exit the KIDO'Z environment by clicking the 'X' at the top of the screen, a password will be required to go to the tablet's homescreen. You can also set up a password to switch between accounts. Without the password, it's impossible for kids to leave the KIDOZ environment (trust me, my kids have tried).
You can also set up a time limit for, say, an hour a day between the hours of 8am and 7pm. If you have multiple accounts, time limits can differ for each child.
KIDO'Z is, somewhat unbelievably, free to download and use. I've only reviewed the Android apps here, but apps are also available for Windows, Mac, and Chrome.
Head on over to the homepage to try it out.
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