Ready or not technology is changing the way we raise our kids. From math games on computers, to learning the ABC on tablets, our kiddos are taking in sights and sounds quicker than we ever did growing up. As a parent, I’m always a little nervous when it comes to the kinds of content that reach my daughter’s little eyes and ears and that’s why I was elated to find that Amazon has just released the Echo Dot Kids Edition!
If you are already a proud owner of an Echo and familiar with Alexa, you know how helpful she can be. Hear the weather, news, music, and even jokes––Alexa quickly becomes a member of your family. With Amazon’s newest device, the Echo Dot Kids Edition takes the best things you love about your current Alexa-enabled devices and makes them safe for kids.
To start, the new Echo Dot comes in fun colors! Choose from cases in red, green or blue for that kid-friendly vibe (the actual device is still black). You’ll notice right off the bat the color also serves a purpose- it’s a kid-proof bumper that’s built to last. Even better, this kids-version comes with a 2-year warranty (the regular Dots only come with 1 year) so if the kids decide to use it as a frisbee, you’re covered!
Let’s get to the innards of the Echo Dot Kids Edition though. When you get your hands on one, you’re treated to one free year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited subscription. This service gives access to hundreds of kids Audible books, premium Alexa skills, safe and kid-friendly music with no ads and tons of playlists, educational content and games!
The best part about FreeTime is that parents are completely involved in setting limits for the kiddos when they use the Parent Dashboard. Not only can you see the types of activities your child has been doing on the Echo Dot Kids Edition, such as music and games, but you can also set limits so Alexa turns off at bedtime (no midnight chat sessions!) and filter explicit content. You can also rest easy because voice shopping is not enabled––no surprise packages!
I’ll be honest that in my house, one of our favorite features is the “Drop In.” When you have multiple Alexa-enabled devices in your home, you can set up the feature to talk to each other from different rooms! My 5-year old loves “dropping in” to say hi from her room (even though I can usually just hear her anyways). Tons of parents love using this to call the kids to dinner and I’m sure, telling everyone to hit the hay.
The main use for the Echo Dot Kids Edition in our house is actually for my daughter’s daily quiet time. Since she’s 5, she no longer takes naps which was a huge challenge for me since I work from home. That nap time was precious and integral for me to get my work done! Instead, we have an hour and fifteen minutes of quiet time, where she has to stay in her room with the door closed. She can play whatever she wants, but has to stay in her room.
Alexa has honestly made daily Quiet Time SO much more enjoyable for both of us! My daughter now has music to keep her entertained (We are big Disney Princesses playlist fans from IHeartRadio) and I can have some peace and quiet to get work done. When she wants to play, I hear her playing Rock, Paper, Scissors or Hide and Seek with Alexa. She sings along to her favorite tunes, and is old enough to tell Alexa “thumbs down” when she doesn’t like a particular song.
At five-years-old she’s perfectly capable of controlling Alexa on her own for basic utterances like requesting music, dropping in and turning Alexa off. She still needs a little help for longer requests, like opening a music player and finding a specific playlist, but we’re getting better!
If you’re on the fence about whether an Alexa-enabled device is right for your family, here is a short list of ways you can use the Echo Dot Kids Edition in your home:
- Quiet Time
- Alternative to Screen Time
- Bedtime Stories
- Audio Books- great for kids who can’t read yet!
- Setting morning alarms (you get FUN characters to wake you up when you have FreeTime Unlimited!)
- Drop Ins
- Educational games
Just like most technology, things are always changing and improving! Every week, we get an email telling us new ways to put Alexa to good use, and we’re excited to see what she’s going to be capable of in the future.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition is available on Amazon for $79.99.
I received an Echo Dot Kids Edition free for my honest review. All stated opinions are true and my own.