Amazon gets kid-friendly and encourages tykes to say “please”

Amazon is rolling out new features encouraging kids to use the Magic Word

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Today’s children are already more tech savvy than we are. After all, while many of today’s parents grew up with teddy bears, they grew up with tablets. And now, Amazon is helping this youngest generation experience the wonders of innovation in a kid-friendly manner. On April 25, the smart home giant debuted a Kids Edition of the Amazon Echo Dot, as well as Amazon FreeTime on Alexa, heralded as an all-new Alexa experience built specifically with children in mind. And now, a few weeks later, Amazon is rolling out a new Magic Word update in order to instill good manners in children — that magic word, of course, is “please.”

Amazon FreeTime boasts a set of parental controls and tools that make Alexa more family friendly, including explicit song filtering, bedtime limits, household communications, and disabled voice purchasing. Better still, Alexa can serve as a proxy teacher for your kids, too, what with educational questions-and-answer sessions, and now, positive reinforcement for saying “please.”

While not all interactions with Alexa will require a “please,” when you’re asking the smart assistant to do something for you like turn out the lights, the Magic Word update will encourage young users to ask politely. If you say the magic word, Alexa will respond with, “By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.” That said, even if you don’t say please, Alexa will still do as you say, sending something of a mixed message.

Should you opt for the new Amazon FreeTime Unlimited option, you’ll also have access to a content subscription service exclusive to Echo devices that grants access to more than 300 children’s books from Audible; as well as kid-friendly, ad-free radio stations and playlists; character alarms; and premium Alexa skills from kid favorites like Disney, Nickelodeon, and National Geographic. This option will set you back $3 per month for Prime members.

While you can easily access these new offerings on your existing Echo device, you may still want to consider the Echo Dot Kids Edition. It looks very similar to its more mature siblings, but as you might expect, comes in more kid-friendly colored cases, like blue, green, and red. And to make the Echo Dot even more kid-proof, this device comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee, so even if your tot plays a little too rough with Alexa, Amazon will replace the Dot for free.

The Kids Edition comes with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, but even after this year is up, parents will still have access to Amazon FreeTime. That means they’ll be able to pause Echo’s functionality during dinner or homework time, limit the services and skills their kids can use, block explicit songs, or have Alexa answer questions about math, spelling definitions, and more. As ever, the more you use Alexa, the smarter she gets.

The Echo Dot Kids Edition will begin shipping on May 9, but can be pre-ordered for $80. Both Amazon FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited have begun rolling out today, May 9 as well.

“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 of 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.”

Updated on May 9: Amazon has begun rolling out its Magic Word update. 

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