I mentioned last week that the school I work for ordered a bunch of Kindles to replace books in the classroom. They came in yesterday and we have a total of 55 to get set up. We learned a long time ago that kids will try anything they shouldn’t on devices we give them to use. Not all of them are like this, but there are enough that make us IT people need to lock them down. I’ve talked before about locking down the iPads we have, but these are just Kindles – not full-blown tablets – so the options are limited.

There are a few concerns we had with restricting the Kindles’ software. Our first concern was credit card information, which is necessary for us to purchase books. Then, we would need the ability to limit access to the Kindle Store. The next concern was the experimental web browser: there is no reason that the students need access to this. The final concern was the ability to download archived content. We didn’t want students to read books meant for other classrooms.

The first Kindle I opened up was running the 4.0 update. I began to play with it and see if it had any kind of parental controls built-in. I was very disappointed to find out that it did not. I found out that the only way to lock down the Kindles would be to restrict access to WiFi if possible and remove the credit card information from our account. I was disappointed that those were the only options – so I kept searching. That’s when I found out that there was an update to the Kindle software: parental controls.

Of the handful of features and bug fixes found in 4.1, the best features for me were parental controls.  It was pretty simple to update: I simply downloaded the update and installed it to the Kindles. It was as easy copying the software to the Kindles and going into settings and selecting the ‘Update My Kindle’ option. The Kindles rebooted a couple times and then they were ready to go.

After the reboots I was anxious to get in and see how much the parental controls would help me. It looked like it would lock down the three things that we needed it to: the Kindle Store, archived books, and the web browser. After opening up a couple more Kindles and starting them up, I found that some of our new e-readers were running 4.0, and others were running 4.1. Only some of them required updating.

So if you want to make sure your Kindle has the parental controls, make sure you are updated to 4.1. You can find the update instructions in the link below.

[Amazon Kindle 4.1]