Amazon Echos getting kid-friendly update; investors circle Amazon sellers

Isaac Cain
April 26, 2018

With Echo Dot Kids Edition, Amazon says Alexa becomes a "kid-friendly DJ, comedian and storyteller [who's] always getting smarter".

The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition goes on sale on May 9, but you can preorder it today.

The Echo Dot Kids Edition features the same puck-like design of the regular Echo Dot, but it's got a colorful case to help protect it.

The Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a two year warranty, a protective rubber case (available in red, blue, and green), and a year's subscription to the kid-friendly the FreeTime Unlimited service. It also includes the aforementioned parental controls and allows parents to schedule when the Echo Dot can be used. The mentioned FreeTime feature will be free for the first year, but after that, you will be able to buy an unlimited plan for $3 per month. FreeTime is geared toward kids, so most content is family-friendly, including 300 Audible books that Alexa can read to children, ad-free stations and playlists from iHeartRadio that are also kid-friendly, and "premium skills" from partners including Disney and Nickelodeon that offer more ways that children can interact with Alexa.

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Being a product aimed at little tykes, the Echo Dot Kids Edition is bound to take a tumble or two. In January, for example, research firm ChildWise reported that usage of voice-activated assistants could affect how children learn to communicate, according to The Telegraph.

You can pre-order the Echo Dot Kids Edition today for $79.99 with shipments scheduled to start May 9. And a special kid-friendly version of Alexa is, in Amazon's words "a kid-friendly DJ, comedian, and storyteller". The feature will also ensure Alexa "speaks kid", as Amazon puts it, and asks age-appropriate questions. A new feature called Magic Word encourages children to say "please" when issuing commands to Alexa, and the Kids Edition will support household calling, messaging, and Drop In features so that parents can use it as an intercom. Calls can also be made using the Alexa app on the phone. Otherwise, Prime members can get FreeTime Unlimited for $2.99 per month.

However, given that Amazon and Google have been in a long-drawn disagreement, YouTube isn't available on the Echo Spot.

"AI devices interfere with the face-to-face interactions and kid-driven play that children need to grow and thrive", said Josh Golin, executive director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

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