Hands on with the Echo Dots Kids Edition
Earlier this year, Amazon introduced an Echo Dot for kids, with its $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition device, which comes in your choice of a red, blue, or green protective case. The idea is to market a version of Amazon’s existing Dot hardware to families by bundling it with an existing subscription service, and by throwing in a few extra features – like having Alexa encourage kids to say “please” when making their demands, for example.
The device makes sense in a couple of scenarios – for helicopter parents who want to fully lock down an Echo device before putting it in a kid’s room, and for those who were in the market for a FreeTime Unlimited subscription anyway.
I’ve been testing out an Echo Dot Kids Edition, and ran into some challenges which I thought I’d share. This is not a hardware review – I’m sure you can find those elsewhere.
As a parent of an 8-year old myself, I’ve realized it’s too difficult to keep her from ever hearing bad words – especially in music, TV and movies – so I’ve just explained to her that while she will sometimes hear those words, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to say them. (We have a similar rule about art – sometimes people will be nude in paintings, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to walk around naked all the time.)
Surprisingly, I’ve been able to establish a level of shame around adult and inappropriate content to the point that she will confess to me when she hears it on places like YouTube. She will even turn it off without my instruction! I have a good kid, I guess.
But I understand some parents will only want kids to access the sanitized version of songs – especially if their children are still in the preschool years, or have a tendency to seek out explicit content because they’re little monsters.
Amazon FreeTime would be a good option in that case, but there are some caveats.
For starters, if you plan on using the explicit language filter on songs the Echo Dot plays, then you’re stuck with Amazon Music. While the Echo Dot itself can play music from a variety of services, including on-demand offerings from Pandora and Spotify, you can’t use these services when the explicit filter is enabled as “music services that do not support this filter will be blocked,”Amazon explains.
We’re a Spotify household, so that means my child’s favorite bedtime music playlist became unavailable when we swapped out her existing Echo Dot for the Kids Edition which had the explicit filter enabled.