Thursday, 26 April 2018

Amazon Recognise Modern Family Life with their New Echo Dot Kids Edition & FreeTime for Alexa

Amazon announced an all-new Alexa Echo Dot for kids and FreeTime for Alexa. Regular readers of Tech Age Kids will know we are big fans of the Amazon Fire tablets and Tracy and I both own and use Alexa Echo and Echo Dot in our family homes. It's great to see Amazon is focussed to provide products and services for modern families.

When we wrote about Amazon Echo in 2016 we really wanted them to create a family-friendly device and now they have. It's currently only available in the US, but fingers crossed it will become more widely available soon.

So what's Echo Dot Kids Edition? And how can you assess the family features if you already own an Echo Dot? We take a closer look.

What's Echo Dot Kids Edition

From what we can see, Echo Dot Kids Edition is exactly the same device as the normal Echo Dot, but it comes with a whole bunch of new, family-focused features.

Firstly you should note that the Kids Edition is $30 more than Echo Dot, but you get a silicon cover and 2-year warranty.

You can also send the device back if it's broken any time in the first year. Amazon will send you a brand new one!

The Kids Edition also includes kid-friendly music, audible books, Alexa skills from Disney, etc, and special kiddy alarms for 1 year.

Amazon says:

“Tens of millions of households already use Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce an entirely new way for kids to have fun and learn with Alexa,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices and Services. “With Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime on Alexa, parents can have peace of mind knowing their kids are getting age-appropriate content, while they listen to music, ask questions, enjoy Audible books, use Alexa skills, and more. We can’t wait for parents and kids to try this out.”

Amazon FreeTime for Alexa

Amazon FreeTime has been around for the Amazon Fire tablets, but it's now available for Alexa. It's a subscription service which provides content tailored for children, filters out ads, and provides parents with tools to set time limits and control services.

Amazon FreeTime for Alexa is free to use for anyone with an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Plus. Amazon FreeTime 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. Learn more about FreeTime:

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for Alexa is a subscription service, which is $2.99 per month for one child or $6.99 for up to 4 children if you are already a Prime customer. FreeTime Unlimited can be tailored according to your child's age between ages 3 and 12 and include audible books, music, videos and apps. FreeTime Unlimited for Alexa also provides kid-friendly skills, alarms and radio station. FreeTime Unlimited can be used on Echo Dot, Fire Tablets and Andriod devices. As with FreeTime for Alexa, the Unlimited subscription option will also roll out on the 9th of May.

Tech Age Kids Conclusion

We're really excited to see companies, like Amazon, taking note of the tech needs of families. My children already use Echo Dot and have them in their bedrooms. The kids use their Echo dot all the time for music, audiobooks, games, questions, and alarms.

There have been occasions when I've had to quickly shout to switch Alexa off due to inappropriate content. So I am definitely giving a big thumbs up to better parental controls and family-friendly content.

Honestly, we've never had a problem with our children being unkind to Alexa, sometimes they would say, she is dumb because she regularly says "I don't know the answer to that!" But they have recognised that she is learning and technology is developing. I love that my children get an opportunity to learn how modern tech works and think how they can be part of solving tech challenges in the future.

A hands-free, screen-free technology device has changed the way we do family life at home. It's really convenient for everyone to add to the shopping list (of course voice purchasing is switched off), or listen to a story together (when you're too tired to read yet another one!) or find an answer to a question that comes up in conversations (we have device-free dinners, but Alexa is a useful robot). We also regularly use the drop-in feature to gather the family with dinners (we live in a 3-storey townhouse) or the boys call their uncle, who also has an Echo Dot (they don't yet have mobile phones). Maybe I'll write another post on how we've used Alexa in our family.

We think Amazon Alexa Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime for Alexa is a welcome addition for modern families.

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