Alexa, how can parents keep their kids safe from the pitfalls of Echo and other “smart speaker” devices?
On the day after Christmas, Amazon announced it celebrated its “biggest” Christmas ever behind robust sales of its Echo voice-command products, which include the larger Echo and the smaller Echo dot.
But your son or daughter asking Alexa how many quarts are in a gallon is much different than asking the voice remote to send an expensive product that is billed to your account and shipped immediately. Or asking Alexa for some information that you'd rather your kids learn from you.
This brings us to the subject of parental controls, a necessary part of kids’ ever-increasing fascination with technology. That fascination helped to spawn the sale of “tens of millions” of Alexa-enabled devices worldwide, according to Amazon. (The company did not release the exact number of sales.) It's likely thousands of them entered households from Albany to Altamont, North Greenbush to Guilderland this week.
With Echo devices, children can interact with Alexa through “kid skills” -- programs comparable to apps on smartphones. Examples include The SpongeBob Challenge from Nickelodeon and Sesame Street from Sesame Workshop.
Parents have to give their permission every time a new kid-skill is set up on an Amazon device through the Alexa app. Also during the process, a code is sent to parents’ mobile phones via text message to let parents know it is them giving the permission, rather than their child.
So parents, you really do have some say on what content or products your kids ultimately receive. Engagement with your children -- and caution -- are of the utmost importance as the technology age adds another item to your parental checklist. The parental controls that Amazon has added to its Echo products is a start to a lot of fun and learning for little ones, but parents still need to set rules regarding its use.
TSL Team Contributions
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