Amazon is adapting its Alexa technology so that Echo smart speakers will switch to kid-friendly mode when they detect children are speaking to them.`
Given how far these digital devices reach into our lives, that’s welcome news.
Echo devices reach deeply into our existence. We use them to get answers to questions, control lights and play music. Our kids see us using them, and kids mimic their parents. So in coming months, Amazon will give parents the option of setting up voice profiles for their children in order to produce kid-friendly responses, the giant retailer said at its device product launch event Thursday.
Echo Dot Kids Edition panda version
Once voice profiles are set up, the Alexa device will return kid-friendly answers, games, music, Audible books and premium skills, for example. The feature dovetails with the new $60 Echo Dot Kids Edition, a smart speaker with panda or tiger color-scheme options, but it’ll work with other Alexa devices, too.
It’s a significant step forward for parents, like myself, who want their children to benefit from new technology but are worried by its many problems. Building a system to handle kids differently is important for safety, privacy and mental health.
See it at Amazon
There’s no doubt about it: New technology offers children a lot. Connected devices let them tap into educational resources, satisfy their curiosity and stay in contact with friends and family. That last ability is particularly welcome while COVID-19 keeps them at home.
What we don’t want is technology that exposes kids to the vast range of inappropriate content that fills parts of the web. We also don’t want them hooked on services, like video games or social media sites, that can