With the rising popularity of “smart home” devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, many parents question how to protect kids from available content. Though initially there were not many options for parental controls, improved controls may be on the way. Soon you will be able to enable Echo devices parental controls with Amazon FreeTime.
Limited Parental Controls on Original Devices
Originally Amazon Echo devices parental controls were limited and accessed through Amazon Household on the primary Amazon.com account. These settings allowed parents to set up children as members of the household. However, they could only opt to completely restrict child members’ access to purchased content, specific devices, and voice-purchases.
Enable Echo Devices Parental Controls Soon
Amazon announced plans to roll out new parental controls on May 9th, 2018. These parental controls options will be available for owners of Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus. These will be an expansion of the existing FreeTime for Kindle Fire controls. The settings will allow Echo users to block explicit music and content, set up time limits, and pause the device completely. The new FreeTime for Alexa will also enable a “kid-friendly” version of Alexa. The “kid-friendly” version will allow kids to ask Alexa questions and receive responses that are suited for children.
If they ask questions that are inappropriate or sensitive Alexa will encourage them to ask an adult. Additionally, with “Magic Word” enabled Alexa will even thank kids for saying, “please.” One downside, however, is that Echo devices are unable to recognize whether a speaker is a child or an adult. Parents will need to manually turn controls on and off for any communally used device. As well, the Echo Spot and Echo Show will not support the new FreeTime settings at this time.
Is FreeTime Really Free?
The basic FreeTime controls will be available free of charge. However, parents who desire gated access to filtered and kid-friendly content will need a monthly subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. With this premium subscription, kids can play downloaded music and access filtered books and radio stations. Partnerships with Disney, National Geographic, and Nickelodeon are in the works to offer more child-friendly content.
Amazon also announced the forthcoming release of the Echo Dot Kids Edition, a version of Echo tailored for children that will come paired with a trial subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. It unveiled the Kids Edition alongside the new FreeTime for Alexa controls on May 9th.
As internet-enabled devices become more and more a part of our daily lives, companies are beginning to realize the importance of providing parent controls. Amazon’s new FreeTime options for Echo devices are a great way to help parents make sure their “smart home” is also a safe one for kids. Used along with Bark, kids can enjoy being connected and parents can enjoy more peace of mind.