Originally introduced in March 2016, the Amazon Echo Dot is a puck-shaped smart speaker designed to be used as a smaller alternative to the full-sized Amazon Echo. The original Echo was released in late 2014, and since then, various iterations of the device — from the Echo Dot to the video-enabled Echo Show — have become mainstays in homes around the world. However, with these devices comes the risk of accidental voice purchasing and having your children hear things you’d rather they didn’t (like explicit song lyrics).
Enter the Echo Dot Kids Edition. As of May 9, you can now purchase a kid-friendly version of the Echo Dot for $80. But how exactly does the kid’s version differ the standard Echo Dot, and why is it $30 more? We’ll break it down for you.
The same design, but more durable
The Echo Dot Kids Edition, which comes in red, blue, and green, looks almost identical to the regular Echo Dot. The only difference is that it comes wrapped in a durable plastic case. It has the same ring on the top that illuminates when you say Alexa’s wake word, as well as volume up, volume down, mute, and on/off buttons.
The device is really just a kid-friendlier version of the Echo Dot, with many of the same features, but toned down for younger audiences. Right out of the box, you can tell the device is for a child because of the bright colors and comic book-style user guide that comes with it. Alexa is also more friendly in this version, responding with stories and age-appropriate responses, and giving your child positive reinforcement when they say “please” and “thank you.” One of the main differences of this version is that it filters out explicit lyrics on Amazon Music and disables voice purchasing, news, and adult-themed question-and-answer scenarios.
Alexa also knows a lot of knock-knock jokes and has customizable alarms (like Spongebob) to entertain its pint-sized users. You can also activate parental controls, which allow you to limit the amount of hours your child can use their Echo and which hours Alexa will respond to them (so they can’t goof off when they’re supposed to be sleeping). You can also track and set limits for how much time your child spends accessing entertainment, and filter content based on three different age groups.
That being said, the Echo Dot Kids Edition may be more kid-friendly, but it is still an IoT device that is attached to the cloud, and will always be vulnerable to hacking (as is also true for the standard Echo Dot), but its toned-down features will ensure that you aren’t surprised by boxes of cookies showing up on your front porch or songs filled with f-bombs blasting through your speakers.
Higher cost is offset by FreeTime Unlimited and better warranty
The Echo Dot Kids Edition currently retails for $80 (which is $30 more than the traditional Dot). However, the Kids Edition comes with a year of FreeTime Unlimited included, making it a better deal in the long run. FreeTime Unlimited gives you access to thousands of books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games, as well as the parental controls that allow you to monitor how your children are using the device.
You can get FreeTime Unlimited on your existing Echo devices, but you’ll need to pay a fee to do so: $3 per child or $7 per family per month if you have Amazon Prime, or $5 and $10 respectively if you’re not a Prime member. The Kids Edition also comes with a 2-year worry-free warranty, compared to a 1-year limited warranty on the original. So if you or your child breaks the Echo Dot (or it stops working for any reason during those first two years) Amazon will send you a new one for free.
So while the device might cost a bit more upfront, it’s actually a better deal in the long run. It is not only more durable than the traditional device, but also includes a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which could equal up to $90 in savings during that first year. After the first year, though, you will need to subscribe to FreeTime Unlimited to continue to get the same features and options you were using before, at the same prices as listed above.
For more information about the Echo Dots Kids Edition, check out our hands-on review.