Please, Alexa? Amazon's new parental controls will encourage politeness

Image credit AFTVNews

Image credit AFTVNews

Ask Alexa if Santa is real on the new device, and it'll respond: "I haven't met him, but if I do, I want to ask about Rudolph's nose".

The paid-for tier - of which you get a free year when purchasing an Echo Dot for kids - blocks content with adult elements (sweary music and the like) - and opens up selections of kids audiobooks from Audible, ad-free stations from iHeartRadio and character-based skills and alarms.

Parents can broadcast messages to the Echo Dot Kids Edition through other Echo devices throughout the home.

The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition costs $79; that's a $30 premium over the regular Echo Dot. FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa will roll out to existing Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus owners via a free, over-the-air software update starting May 9.

If true, the upcoming Fire TV Cube may end up melding Amazon's media streaming hardware with Echo, the company's smart speaker products.

Amazon introduced three parent-friendly offerings today, April 25, aimed at making the experience of using its Echo speakers and Alexa voice assistant a little more kid-appropriate, and perhaps making kids a little more polite. "We can't wait for parents and kids to try this out". Those who are new to FreeTime Unlimited can sign up for as low as $2.99 per month.




While the service is free for a year with a Echo Dot Kids Edition purchase, Prime members who already own an Echo Dot can subscribe for $2.99 per month. If you've never heard of FreeTime, it's basically a set of parental controls to monitor your child's usage of one of Amazon's Fire tablets.

Amazon has released its first Echo device for kids.

FreeTime service launched with improved parental controls and tweaked Alexa features.

With FreeTime for Alexa, parents can call, message and DropIn on Alexa devices to tell kids when their dinner is ready, the firm said.

The move comes at a time when children are using technology more than ever: The average child now spends over two hours in front of a screen every day, according to the non-profit group Common Sense Media. From the sounds of things it's a device for households with kids, so they don't do something stupid and somehow use Alexa to listen to the 50 Shades of Grey audiobook or knock it off the counter and cause your fake person to shatter into a million pieces. With FreeTime active, Alexa will deliver longer, more detail responses to queries, but with a simpler vocabulary.

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