Amazon is adopting its Alexa technology so that Echo smart speakers move to child-friendly mode when they know that children are talking to them.
Considering how far these digital devices reach in our lives, this is welcome news.
Echo devices reach deep into our existence. We use them to get answers to questions, control lights and play music. Our children see us using them, and children imitate their parents. Therefore, in the coming months, parents will be given the option to set up voice-profiles for their children to create child-friendly responses, the giant retailer said at its device product launch event on Thursday.
Once the voice profile is set, the Alexa device will return child-friendly answers, games, music, audio books, and premium skills, for example. This feature works with the new $ 60A smart speaker with Panda or Tiger color-scheme options, but it will also work with other Alexa devices.
This is an important step for parents like myself, who want their children to benefit from the new technology but are concerned about its many problems. Building a system to handle children differently is important for security, privacy, and mental health.
There is no doubt: New technology offers a lot to children. Connected devices tap them into educational resources, satisfy their curiosity and keep in touch with friends and family. While the ultimate potential is particularly welcomeKeeps them at home.
What we do not want is technology that exposes children to the vast array of inappropriate content that fills parts of the web. We also do not want them to be addicted to services like video games or social media sites, which may harm their self-esteem or are otherwise psychologically unwell.
It is not yet clear how well Amazon’s technology will work or how widespread it will be. But there are good signs that Amazon is addressing real needs.
Listen to the technique called reading sidekick, which listens to children reading books aloud.-Assistant will provide support and will also help a little if the child struggles.
The reading sidekick may be useful for parents dealing with home schooling in exceptional circumstances like the coronovirus epidemic. I can’t imagine that it would be as good as a real parent, teacher or other supportive human. But for many families and schools, the option does not help at all.
“Reading Sidekick” is a feature I wanted … so badly when 4yrs ago [my] The child was having trouble reading. The best way to help a child improve reading is to read aloud, but most children hate doing this alone, so they suggest reading to pets, “tech analyst Carolina Millenci tweeted. “Sadly, pets do not react.”
I foresee a lot of problems. Children often learn how to bypass parental control. Producing “kids” is difficult when “kids” can range from preschoolers to middle schoolers. And the more customized the service, the more worrying the implications of privacy are. This is especially true with a company like Amazon which is a huge incentive to sink our profile into what we want to buy online. And Amazon already has privacy-related flaws about storing Alexa’s voice recordings and turning on ring security cameras in neighborhood monitoring systems.
And don’t forget that Amazon’s primary interest is keeping your family within the radius of its technology and paying for services like Prime, Amazon Music Unlimited and Audible. Today’s children are customers of tomorrow.
But let’s be realistic. Millions of us have already let these devices into our homes. It is better to try to wrestle with problems than to pretend they do not exist. Teaching Alexa to work smarter with children is a start.
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