Amazon has made some kid-friendly announcements today. In a press release, the company unveiled its new Echo Dot Kids Edition. Coming in a $79.99, the device works and acts the same way a typical Echo Dot does with a loudspeaker and array of microphones to pick up on the “Alexa” keyword. For the Kids Edition, the speaker comes with a protective case and two-year warranty where if something happens to the device, Amazon will replace it, no questions asked.
That’s great and all, but it’s really only half the story. The other big announcement the company made today was FreeTime on Alexa. If you’ve never heard of FreeTime, it’s basically a set of parental controls to monitor your child’s usage of one of Amazon’s Fire tablets. It’s intended to ensure kids are watching and interacting with appropriate content, and now, that same service is coming to Alexa.
With FreeTime on Alexa, you’ll get an array of controls to streamline family-friendly features to your kids’ Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus. There are two tiers available: the free standard tier and one called FreeTime Unlimited that costs an additional $2.99/month for Prime subscribers (all Echo Dot Kids Editions come with a free year of FreeTime Unlimited).
Here are the features you get on the free tier:
- Time Limits to specify when your children can use their Echo
- Parental Controls to control which Skills and services your kids can use
- The ability to block explicit songs from playing
- Activity Review to monitor what your kids are doing with their Echoes
- Magic Word to force your kids to say something like “please” before they can ask Alexa to do something
- An education Q&A that covers topics such as math, spelling, science, and more
- Kid-friendly activities
- Household announcements that can be played across all the Echo speakers in your home
With FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa, you get all the features listed above plus the following:
- Over 300 kid-friendly audiobooks thanks to Audible
- Ad-free kid-friendly iHeartRadio Family radio stations
- Premium Alexa Skills for kids such as those from Disney and Nickelodeon
- The ability to wake up to your kids’ favorite characters from Disney, Nickelodeon, and more
- Access to kid-friendly games, apps, videos, books and more on Fire tablets
“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, 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.”
According to Amazon, the new FreeTime on Alexa will begin rolling out to Echoes everywhere over-the-air starting May 9th. Echoes with screens, such as the Echo Show or Spot, won’t get the feature, however. The Echo Show Kids Edition is available for pre-order starting today. It will also begin shipping May 9th.