Furthering its aggressive push in smart speakers and digital personal assistants, Amazon today announced a new version of the Echo Dot aimed at kids that will work with a new version of its parental controls called Amazon FreeTime on Alexa.
“Tens of millions of households already use Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce an entirely new way for kids to have fun and learn with Alexa,” Amazon’s Dave Limp said in a prepared statement. “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.”
While Amazon FreeTime on Alexa will work with any Echo speaker, Amazon has also introduced a more colorful version of its low-end Echo Dot, called Echo Dot Kids Edition, that will ship on May 9. Available in “kid-friendly” bright blue, green, or red colors, Echo Dot Kids Edition costs about $80. But I don’t believe it is otherwise different from the existing Echo Dot, which is significantly less expensive at just $50. That said, Amazon notes that the Kids version includes “one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and … a 2-year worry-free guarantee.” If it breaks, Amazon will replace it for free.
To be clear, there are two tiers of Amazon’s parental controls.
Amazon FreeTime on Alexa is free and it “brings parental controls and family-focused features to Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus.” These include time limits, explicit song blocking, activity reviews, a magic word feature that requires kids to say “please” to get results, educational Q&A functionality, and more.
FreeTime Unlimited costs $2.99 per month or more if you’re a Prime member (and more if you are not). It adds “a wide selection of Alexa-specific content such as kid-friendly premium skills, Audible books, and more,” Amazon says. Other features include ad-free and kid-friendly stations, premium Alexa skills, a wake-up feature with Disney or Nickelodeon character voices, and more.