Amazon Launches Kid Friendly Echo Dot…. Is This A Good Idea?

Amazon is introducing the Echo Dot Kids Edition, a child-focused version of its Echo smart speaker. It’s just like the Echo Dot that you can get now, but it’s aimed at kids. You can turn off the ability to buy stuff. You can force your kids to use words like “please” and “thank you” when interacting with it. Parents choose which services and skills kids can use, and gives them the ability to set a bedtime or block off time for homework, so that kids can’t talk with Alexa when they’re supposed to be sleeping or focusing on other things. And it will serve up age-appropriate content.

But is this a good idea?

I wonder that because I’ve watched four year olds have delightful conversations with Google Assistant and Siri. But these same kids are shy reserved when dealing with people in real life. I also wonder what Amazon is going to do with all the data that they collect on kids that use this gizmo? That’s not a trivial thought given the Facebook data leakage scandal. There’s also the cynical side of me who thinks that this is a great way to get these kids hooked on Amazon services while they’re young.

Then there’s the fact that I have to ask if kids really need to have one of these at all? What is it that kids get out of having a virtual assistant? Will they suffer by not having one? I don’t think so. This seems to be a solution looking for a problem. Thus if I were a parent, I’d be giving this gizmo a pass. Perhaps other parents should do the same and instead do things like send their kids outside to play or read them a book.

Just a thought.

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