I watched my daughter get on the bus in the morning. I walked from the bus stop back towards my house. The bus pulled away and headed down the street.
My phone buzzed, notifying me of an email. Then it buzzed again, and again! What was going on? In two minutes I’d received three emails from Amazon.com telling me about the new apps I downloaded.
The first app was called My Talking Tom. “Nurture your very own cat. Play games with him, feed him his favorite foods, tuck him into bed.”
The second app was Gold Medal Figure Skating. “Play figure skating- Win a Medal! Learn tricks, jumps and dance moves!”
The third app was Sunnyville Pet Salon. “Wash and blow dry pet hair at the pet salon! Cut and style pet hair, dress up your pet and snap a photo to save and share.”
You see, my daughter’s class had a research project going on at her school and kids were encouraged to BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device.” This was the first morning my daughter was allowed to take her Kindle to school and apparently she couldn’t wait to get on the bus to start downloading a bunch of games as soon as she was away from her parents.
Normally she doesn’t have unlimited access to whatever she wants on her Kindle. In fact, that’s one of the reasons my wife and I chose a Kindle over other similar devices. My wife found that Kindle Fire offered something called Free Time that could limit access to apps and assign time limits for using different parts of the Kindle. Once those time limits expired, the only parts of the Kindle that were accessible were the downloaded books. But, in order for my daughter to use her Kindle for research at school, we removed the restrictions and time limits, so she basically had free reign to do whatever she wanted concerning apps and internet access.
What she didn’t know though, was I was receiving emails of all her app purchases. It was like a window into her little eight-year-old brain.
Over the next few days, on the bus and at home in her bedroom, she downloaded the following apps:
Spongebob diner dash
Tap dragon park
Flow Free bridges
Creatures of Olympus
Kitty cat birthday surprise
Kitty and puppy love story
Where’s My Water? 2
Baby Room Makeover. Extreme Edition!
Angry Birds go
Angry Birds space free
Doctor X Med School
Sports Dream Team
Tom Cat Love Letters
Enchanted spa salon- a magical fairy tale princess makeover adventure
I was relieved that all the apps seemed age appropriate and pretty harmless (although I’ll have to check out Tom Cat Love Letters just to be certain 😉 .)
It was also nice to see that she didn’t use any school time accessing new apps. If there are rules in place she will usually follow them, but she will also try to get by with things under the guise of, “nobody told me not to,” which was her way of justifying the app purchases, all were free by the way.
But, sadly (for her) the days of BYOD at school are over. She’s been reassigned back to her “old” uses for the Kindle. Gone are the days of Flappy Fins, Coin Party and Enchanted Spa Salon.
It may be months before she’s able to go on another, “magical fairy tale princess makeover adventure!”