Binatone Kidzstar Tablet: Not the Review I Expected to Write

A few months back the team at Binatone got in touch to ask if Flea and I would try out a new child’s tablet.

Now, I confess, I’m not a big believer in children using tablet computers.

I worked as a tech journalist for more than a decade and if I learned one thing (actually, it’s entirely possible I did only learn one thing) it’s this: technology never works exactly as vendors expect it to. So just because a vendor tells me an iPad or Nexus is perfectly safe in the hands of a three-year-old doesn’t mean I believe them.

Having said that, I was interested when Binatone got in touch to ask us to try out a KidzStar tablet, and let them know what we thought.

Crucially, the KidzStar has parental controls that mean parents can set limits on what children can do – and they can only play games and download apps from a separate KidzStar App store. Sounds reassuring, right?  When you turn the device on, it’s in children’s mode and you have to enter a password to gain access to the parent’s screen – which is where you control settings, but also provides access to a fuller range of apps, including YouTube, a browser and Google search.

To test the tablet out, we gave it to Flea’s cousin, who is 10 years of age – at the upper end of the recommended age group, but also at the age where lots of her friends are being given adult devices, and so we were interested to see how a kids’ tablet would compare.

My niece was given the device to charge, and was incredibly excited to get started.

The next day, Flea and I were out when I received a text message from my sister-in-law. Having turned the tablet on, there was a password. I didn’t know what the default password might be, but said I’d look when I got home.

A few minutes later, I got this text:

Yep. It had taken barely an hour for my niece to work out how to bypass the parental control settings entirely and access the adult area of the tablet. She showed me later that day how she was able to move from the secure, child’s area of the software to the adult screen without needing to enter a password.

Within one of the children’s apps, my niece typed a word that was mis-spelled. The tablet prompted her to add this new word to the dictionary. Click ‘yes’ and the tablet whisked her off to the Dictionary – which is situated in the adult portion of the device – no password required. So now she had full access to the browser, and could happily access Google search and YouTube. Binatone says it’s looking into this technical glitch, so I’m not sure if this is possible on all devices, or just ours.

What worries me a bit is that this is just the kind of thing kids would do without even thinking they were doing anything sneaky – although kudos to my niece for sussing it out so quickly!

My niece uses the device in the adult mode anyway – she’s far too old for the included games, apps and songs, which mostly seemed to be geared to 4-6 year olds. She’s worked out how to add books and music, and she enjoys watching YouTube. The orange bumper is removable, giving the tablet quite a grown-up look, but actually my niece quite likes it!

So have I been won over to the idea of kids and tablets? If anything, I would say if you’re going to spend this kind of money, buy an adult tablet because you KNOW you should be supervising your children while they’re playing on it. I’m concerned by a child’s device where the safety setting is so easily bypassed.

The KidzStar tablet is on sale exclusively at Argos, currently priced at £129.99 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

10 Comments

  1. 4th February 2013 / 1:35 pm

    We have a Google Nexus tablet that the kids can occasionally use. We installed an app called Kids Mode by Zoodles on it. When the kids use the tablet I switch onto that. So far they not managed to exit the kid mode, but then they tend to use it supervised and for not too long.
    The drawback: when they accidentally click on an advert in a game, although it blocks them from the internet, it also exits the game, so they have to start again. 🙁

    Technology still has to catch up.
    Monika recently posted..Family rituals – a postcard from the pastMy Profile

  2. 4th February 2013 / 7:42 pm

    Well, this is very interesting to read especially after reading other poeple’s only positive reviews. This definitely shouldn’t be happening. I agree, children shouldn’t be left playing with tablets on their own anyway….
    Mirka Moore @Kahanka recently posted..Decisions, decisions!My Profile

  3. TheBoyandMe
    4th February 2013 / 8:08 pm

    Good for you for being so honest. I’ve recently come to discover that these parental controls aren’t what they make themselves out to be. The Boy hacked them back to the base operating system of the tablet he was using, all through the photo gallery.

  4. purplemum
    4th February 2013 / 8:14 pm

    I let my children use my Ipad but only when I’m in the room and on games which I have preselected and to watch TV and movies. However my eldest is only six and I’m not sure how I’ll handle it when they want to use it for more. Tricky.

  5. 4th February 2013 / 8:45 pm

    I let DD watch short movies on my laptop (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, etc). She is 4, she cannot read yet, and has never played on it by herself. I was amazed last week when she told me exactly what to do to get to the movie she wanted. Maybe mankind has already evolved to life with internet?
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..#SilentSundayMy Profile

  6. 4th February 2013 / 10:24 pm

    As you know I am a big believer in kids using tablet computers, but I’ve not yet been convinced by any of these devices marketed specifically at kids. From what I can tell they are low-spec Android devices with an extra piece of software, and I have heard of other kids working around the parental controls. There is no replacement for supervising your kids use of these devices, and ideally keeping it disconnected from the Internet as long as possible!

    I should have got your niece to have a go at the nook I just reviewed, because on the face of it that didn’t seem to have the same issues. Is she available for consultancy? 🙂
    Ruth (geekmummy) recently posted..nook HD – the most family friendly tablet on the market? (review)My Profile

  7. tasha
    6th February 2013 / 10:01 pm

    My daughter is only a year old and is drawn to anything with a screen like a moth to a flame. I know she is too young yet but I have already started to wonder at what age I should allow her supervised access to technology…

  8. 25th February 2013 / 6:47 pm

    We arecn iPad family but we make sure our teenager is supervised . This tablet is concerning if you can bypass the controls.
    Ninja cat recently posted..Social media muggingMy Profile

  9. Hayley
    31st August 2013 / 12:56 am

    Hi I am wondering the secret password as I have just bought a supposedly brand new one from ebay and I cannot access wifi as I dont have the password! Please help!

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