We all want our children to grow up valuing manners and being polite, but for today’s tech-savvy kids, manners are sometimes not top of mind when communicating with or through digital devices.
Amazon just announced it’s launching the Echo Dot Kids Edition which—in addition to stopping the constant stream of crazy kid questions directed at mom and dad’s Alexa—will now reward kids who use their “magic words.”
The kids edition is priced at $79.99 and comes with one year of the new FreeTime Unlimited family plan. Within that subscription you get access to over 300 Audible kids’ books; kid-friendly music, and content from Disney, Nickelodeon, National Geographic.
The extra cool thing is that if kids are polite when accessing this stuff, Alexa rewards them by recognizing their good manners.
Like, if a kid says “Alexa, please tell me how many whiskers a cat has?”Alexa will reply with something like, “Thanks for asking so nicely.”
If the kiddo says thanks after Alexa replies to some crazy kid command, the Kids Edition Dot will say “You’re welcome.”
Critics of Alexa are pretty stoked about this upgrade. According to the BBC, the researchers at ChildWise, which recently published a report warning that kids growing up with virtual assistants might be learning rude behavior, are happy to see Amazon taking kids (and manners) into account when designing such devices.
“This is a very positive development,” ChildWise research director Simon Leggett told the BBC. “We had noticed that practically none of the children that we had talked to said they ever used the words ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ when talking to their devices.”
So in addition to helping your kids remember to use their magic words, what else can the Echo Dot for kids do? Well, it’ll block inappropriate songs, can be set to go silent and bedtime, and will tell your kids when dinner is ready so that you don’t have to yell up the stairs. Pretty cool.
“With Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime on Alexa, parents can have peace of mind knowing their kids are getting age-appropriate content, while they listen to music, ask questions, enjoy Audible books, use Alexa skills, and more. We can’t wait for parents and kids to try this out,” says Dave Limp, the Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices and Services.
According to Amazon, this Alexa “speaks kid,” so if your child says something like, “Alexa, I’m bored,” the device will spout off some age-appropriate suggestions. There’s also an activity review, so parents can review what their kids are doing during FreeTime on Alexa, and listen back to the kids’ voice recordings.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition is about $30 more than a regular Echo Dot, but it comes in three kid colors (red, green and blue) and a 2-year warranty in case your kids are a little rough with it.
FreeTime on Alexa and the Echo Dot Kids Edition launch May 9.