Amazon Expands Kid-Friendly Echo Dot Range Amid Security Concerns
Amazon is expanding its Echo smart speaker line in the United Kingdom by launching Echo Dot Kids, a child-friendly version of its fourth-generation Amazon Echo smart speaker. However, the product may pose security risks.
So how child-friendly is it? Is the Echo Dot safe for your kids?
A Helpful Diversion?
Amazon begins shipping the smart speaker on July 21, 2021. It costs £59.99—that's about $83 USD, although their RRPs are $59.99 in America too. Amazon launched the speaker in the US first. Its arrival in the UK comes 10 months after that introduction.
The company revamped its fourth-generation Echo Dot for adults, giving it a new shape. The gadget for kids looks much different from a traditional Echo Dot, mainly because people can buy it in a design that looks like a tiger or a panda. The playful appearance could convince parents that the speaker is a worry-free diversion for a bored youngster.
Related: What Is Alexa and What Does Alexa Do?
Indeed, the speaker comes with a free year-long subscription to Amazon Kids+, which features thousands of hours of books, games, and other child-friendly content. The subscription continues at a rate of £1.99 (around $2.75 USD) per month after the free period ends.
Users can also make calls with the device, but only to parent-approved people.
Connecting the speaker to Wi-Fi is a quick process that mirrors the setup steps for a conventional fourth-generation Echo. A two-year warranty means Amazon will replace the gadget during that time if it breaks or malfunctions.
Any parent who has ever dealt with a fussy, frustrated kid knows the value of keeping the youngster occupied long enough for the adult to cook dinner, pay bills, or enjoy a bit of downtime. But what are the possible risks?
Echo Isn't Without Its Risks
Amazon Echo Dot speakers work like many other virtual assistant-type products. They analyze a person’s incoming voice signal to detect what the user said. However, news broke in 2019 that Amazon hires workers to listen to customers’ Alexa conversations.
Amazon lets people review and delete stored voice recordings. Plus, the Echo Dot for kids has a button to turn off the microphone, unlike the variants for grown-ups.
Even so, security researchers frequently identify flaws in Amazon speakers. Additionally, a hacker previously spoke to a girl by breaking into a Ring security camera, identifying themselves as Santa. These examples highlight how no tech item can keep a child free from all risks or dangers.
A Hot Seller in the United States
Amazon initially announced its kid-friendly Echo Dot in September 2020. However, back then, it did not explicitly mention an intention to bring it to the UK. The company only focused on the United States in the beginning.
The Amazon Dot kids edition is a popular seller on the US site, sold out at the time of writing. Amazon did not give an estimated restocking date but acknowledged efforts to make more available soon.
Notably, Amazon lets customers purchase from their global sites regardless of where they live. Taking that approach requires paying significantly more for shipping. However, depending on how long it takes for the US site to receive more, some parents might purchase from the UK instead.
Related: What's the Difference Between Alexa and Echo?
Parental Oversight Needed
Amazon’s version of the Echo Dot for kids lets parents set content controls and limit daily usage. However, some adults nonetheless let their kids enjoy content all day.
That’s not necessarily a good thing, particularly if parents don’t know precisely what keeps their kids occupied. Whether they live in the United States, the United Kingdom, or wherever Amazon makes this product available next, parental supervision is essential for keeping children safe.