Amazon’s New Alexa Strategy: Get ‘Em While They’re Young

Posted on April 25, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Smart Home with 11 Comments

Amazon's New Alexa Strategy: Get 'Em While They're Young

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.

You can find out more about Amazon FreeTime Unlimited from the Amazon website.

 

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Comments (11)

11 responses to “Amazon’s New Alexa Strategy: Get ‘Em While They’re Young”

  1. Jared

    It is not clear. Does Amazon allow an echo dot user to enable parental controls? How is this done? It isn't under devices or settings. I may be in the minority here, but Amazon's subscription services and their website is about confusing.

  2. red.radar

    I am not certain what problem this is solving... I am paying 2.99 a month to teach my kid manners ?


    Streaming music that ubiquitous that we need personalized speakers ?


    Why cant alexa just recognize the voice and apply access controls why does it need a special speaker ?



    • chrisrut

      In reply to red.radar:

      Good question. Certainly the way I would expect things to work in the near future, if not already. But then, those bright kandy-like colors are cool...

    • Jaxidian

      In reply to red.radar:

      The $2.99/mo gives your kids a "safe environment" to explore in on tablet, phone, and/or (now) an Echo. Rather than explaining what they can and cannot do (which with some ages, is difficult), you can now just let them explore on their own without many worries.


      I can't say how good or bad it is as I've never used it, but I've researched it since we will some day be wanting to exercise options like this once we start introducing our toddler to these sorts of things. You may not think something like this is valuable but I think it's great that companies are giving us safe ways to let our young ones explore and learn on their own in productive and safe ways! Not everything can be or should be something that a parent hand-holds a child with - healthy self exploration is also a very important thing for many little ones!

    • michaelpatricehuber

      In reply to red.radar:

      You pay $2.99 for content (Audible books etc.), not for parental controls.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to red.radar:

      It's not a special speaker. It's just a normal Echo Dot with a kid-friendly case and a subscription to FreeTime.


      I already have a subscription to FreeTime Unlimited from my kid's Kindle Fires, so I'll get this for free. Will be interested in checking it out.

  3. sharpsone

    This sickens me... Time to regulate the tech industry before they destroy humanity as we know it. No kid needs this sillyness in their lives, pick up a book go outside and play. Amazon your days with my dollars are numbered...

    • DefCon420

      In reply to sharpsone:

      Totally agree. Children should not be targeted like this, or in any other way. It's utterly deplorable.

      • Frank Rojas

        In reply to DefCon420:

        I am glad that both of you can tell me another adult what is and isn't appropriate for my child, and even worse you suggest getting the government involved in telling me what is and isn't appropriate for my child. Let me make those decisions without your or the government's involvement. If you don't want your kid to use Alexa, then great. I am happy for you and you can do whatever you want with your kid. But don't for a second start telling me that I can't use Alexa with my kid.


        My boy is 3 years old and is very inquisitive. He doesn't quite know how to read yet so when he has questions he asks Alexa. How big is Asia? How many people are in South America? Alexa happily answers. These are questions he has actually asked Alexa. It is a great teaching tool. If you want to stay in the dark ages and teach your kids with pencil and paper and chalk and chalkboard, then great, but don't start taking away from me and my child new and alternative ways of providing their education just because you don't want to move ahead.


        And my kid still plays plenty outside and looks at plenty of books despite the "silliness" in their lives.

  4. jimchamplin

    It feels weird, the idea of getting kids hooked on Amazon. It’s like saying, “Here, kids! Enjoy this tiny dose of strychnine! Now remember to keep taking it forever. If you ever stop, you’ll die!”

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