Alexa, Are You My Mommy?

By — 04.30.18

If you’re like us, you probably ask yourself “what will Amazon come up with next?” Last week, the innovative retailer announced their latest product, the Echo Dot Kids Edition. You read that right—a new gadget for your kids.

On May 9th, Amazon will expand their footprint within the American home to yet another room—your child’s bedroom—with the release of the Echo Dot Kids Edition.  This kid-friendly Echo Dot looks just like the one we are familiar with but includes a more durable case, a one year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, and a two year worry-free warranty.

What Will It Do?  What Won’t It Do…
The subscription to FreeTime Unlimited will feature ad-free kid-friendly music, jokes, and stories.  It will also answer kid-appropriate questions, suggesting the bigger questions (like those surrounding guns or alcohol) be asked to an adult.  There’s some oversight capabilities too, allowing parents to review their kid’s usage from their Amazon app on their smartphone.

And Amazon reminds us that Alexa is always getting smarter so we can expect more to be added to the list.  

Big Implications
The kid-friendly Echo Dot will play a role in shaping your child—much like a nanny robot.  Alexa will thank children when they pair a command with the word “please.” Or if a child asks Alexa about the planets, Alexa will respond by saying that Pluto is “considered a dwarf planet by scientists.  Just because you’re small though, doesn’t mean you’re not important.”  With parents being able to announce over the device when dinner is ready or set bedtimes, Alexa is beginning to play a more prominent role in the American family.  AI technology could begin teaching our children ethics.

While social media platforms like Facebook don’t allow use among kids until they turn 13 years old, Amazon will be collecting data on your child from day one.  Adding to this, “parental controls are good but they could lull parents into a false sense of security” as these devices aren’t impenetrable to hackers who could record your child or take over their device.

What Do Consumers Think?
As soon as we saw the announcement, we wondered if parents would jump on board.  We asked 200 consumers if they would allow their child to have an Amazon Alexa, even knowing that it stores their child’s data.  We found that of all respondents surveyed (parents and non-parents combined) 59% said they would not allow their child to have the device.  That’s a pretty large group of consumers who feel uncomfortable with this announcement. Interestingly, a bit less, 55% of parents who have kids said they would not want their child to have an Echo Dot Kids Edition.  We assume that some parents completing the survey were picturing a few moments of solitude from the constant “but why?!” questions—but a majority were still alarmed by the concept of it.

Age can play a factor in which parents purchase this device for their children.  Among parents who were asked if they would allow their child to have a kid’s version of Alexa, older demographics were more inclined to say no.  80% of those surveyed between the ages of 55-64 said they would not be interested in getting a Echo Dot Kids Edition for their child while 62% of those between the age range of 45-54 said no.  Responses were even among millennials and Gen Xers (between ages 25 and 44), with roughly 56.5% saying they didn’t want their kids to have the device. During a time where consumers are more aware than ever of how companies are collecting their data, companies like Amazon have a better chance of winning over younger parents who grew up with technology and see data collection as an inevitable aspect of being a consumer in America.

Would you let your child use an Echo Dot Kids Edition? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

USA Today. Kids were being rude to Alexa, so Amazon updated it. 2018
The Sun. Amazon warning to parents over ‘worrying’ Echo Dot Kids Edition smart speaker that talks to your children. 2018
Photo Source: Amazon


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