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Amazon introduces new parental control features for tablets

NEW YORK — Amazon is introducing new tools to help parents see what their kids are doing on the company’s Fire tablets. As a bonus, the e-commerce giant says its service will also help spark discussions about the books kids read and the videos they watch.

Parents first have to sign up with Amazon’s FreeTime service, a set of tools for pre-approving how much time kids spend on a tablet and what they do with it. The FreeTime service is free, as is the new dashboard tool.

Then they’ll be able to view each child’s activities through Amazon’s website. Information will include the amount of time spent on e-books, videos, apps and web browsing. Parents will also see 90 days’ worth of details such as the specific books read and videos watched — and how long the child spent on each.

The service will also suggest some questions and activities, with open-ended questions designed to avoid classic single-word responses from kids. For the book “Captain Awesome vs. Nacho Cheese Man,” for instance, suggested discussion topics include questioning assumptions and assessing the role incorrect assumptions have on friendships.

The dashboard tool also works with FreeTime Unlimited, a $3-and-up monthly subscription that offers access to books, videos and other digital items that Amazon deems appropriate for children at various ages. With regular FreeTime, parents only have access to their own Amazon library of digital purchases.

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