Keeping kids safe with Alexa

October 2, 2022
1 min read
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PAT PILCHER on a special child-friendly update for Alexa that makes the world a much safer place.

Amazon Echo owners with kids can breathe a sigh of relief as Echo devices get an update that gives parents more control and the ability to monitor how their kids are using those devices.

The funny thing is that this update could be just as useful to adults. We were heading away on holiday and got friends to house sit. They jokingly said they’d get Alexa to buy us some inappropriate things. Knowing how easily stuff can be purchased with a voice command, I disabled all purchasing options from the Alexa app, which was a time-consuming chore.

Now with the Amazon Kids update, Alexa will only deliver content to keep kids safe online. It’ll also handily block house sitters from shopping for adult toys with Alexa and my credit card. As handy as the update is for adults, it’s aimed at children aged 12 and under and includes sing-alongs with Amazon Music, kid-friendly games, jokes, and stories. All of these are also perfect for keeping housesitters entertained.

A nice touch is the inclusion of Kiwi content. It includes The Stolen Stars of Matariki, which can be told in English and Te Reo. Kids (and house sitters) can even ask Alexa who her favourite rugby team is. Your answer will vary depending on which country you are in, but the correct answer is the “All Blacks”.

Amazon Kids reached New Zealand this week. Amazon estimates that over 20 million kids and parents are using it globally.

The Parent Dashboard allows parents to set time limits on Alexa use. They can also block access to adult content, restrict access to services and monitor what their kids say to Alexa. Parents can also opt to have their kids’ voice commands not recorded. Should parents want to listen in on what their wee darlings are saying to Alexa, the voice recordings are encrypted and stored securely on the cloud, not on Alexa devices.

In a nutshell, the Amazon kids update will:

Block Songs with Explicit Lyrics: Any songs with explicit lyrics from Amazon Music, Apple Music or Spotify are blocked.

Set Time Limits: to pause Echo devices for dinner or homework time, etc.

Manage Services and Content: The Parent Dashboard/Alexa app can choose which services and skills kids can use. Voice purchasing is also blocked.

Activity Review: Parents can review their kid’s Alexa activity/voice recordings in the Alexa app.

Getting the Amazon Kids update is a straightforward process as it is part of the latest software update for Alexa.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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