How adult books ended up on my young son's Kindle

Stewart Mitchell
4 Jan 2013

At £99, the Kindle Fire looked the perfect gift for a seven year old, with plenty of content aimed at children, some very playable games and a fairly rigorous set of child-friendly filters built into the device. In fact, Amazon was even touting the device's child friendliness in the run-up to Christmas, with an offer that included Disney and Nickelodeon content.

It was something of a surprise, then, to find that as said youngster explored the device with child protection turned on, a trio of adult books turned up in the carousel display on the Kindle's homepage. To be fair, this wasn't something pushed by Amazon, but the result of the child's account being linked with my Amazon account.

During research for a feature on online porn and child protection (Yeah, I know, lame excuse, but I'm sticking with it) three erotica titles of the 50 Shades ilk had found their way into the main account controlling the Kindle in question.

And there they were, staring out from the child's glossy touchscreen in all their stocking-clad glory. Online research found a remedy for the carousel issue - touch the title and "remove from carousel" - but that was by no means the last time the novellas appeared on the device.

Of course, everything bought from your Amazon account remains in the cloud. Back in the main Books menu, the three titles remained available under "Cloud" content, and could easily be downloaded despite general parental controls being activated on the actual device.

You can block all books in the parental control setting,  but who's going to block books from a child's Kindle, seeing as that's the main draw? It's far from ideal, and something that might worry any of the millions that have bought the 50 Shades series for their Kindles and probably didn't realise the purchases are replicated across devices.

In an increasingly urgent assault on the titles, the Your Kindle Library control page proved more useful, enabling me to delete the content from the account, although such action comes with the warning that this is a permanent deletion and that deleting the books will mean they have to be repurchased if you want to read it again. If you want adult content on your Kindle, you can't have the same account linked to your child's device, it would appear.

Having deleted two of the items, a check showed the titles were still visible on the device – both in the Books |Cloud section as well as back on the carousel, due to the titles having been deemed active. Only once fully deleted and with the device rebooted did the dubious reading material finally disappear, although one stubborn item lingered at the top of the lists for an hour after removal.

As parental control faux pas go, this is nowhere near the level we revealed in TalkTalk's network filtering system, but it does provide a warning for parents sharing any of their digital space with other family members. It is obviously common practice for parents to link children's accounts to their own, given that they don't have credit cards. Just be wary of what you're giving the youngsters access to.

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