In September 2022 Amazon announced an all-new Alexa experience for families in New Zealand and Australia.
Amazon Kids on Alexa is available on Echo smart speakers and Echo Show devices and has been designed to help kids learn, play and grow, while being entertained at home.
The experience will allow kids 12 years and under to discover fun, child-directed content with Alexa, from sing-alongs with Amazon Music, to playing games, and telling jokes, while ensuring parents can fully manage and control the experience.
We have a virtual chat with Kate Gooden, Head of Alexa Products at Amazon about Amazon Kids.
Shane: Amazon Alexa has always offered up entertainment, by way or cheesy ‘Dad’ jokes, Alexa original songs and more. How does Alexa for Kids expand on that?
Kate: Since launching in 2018, we’ve worked really hard to create a personality for Alexa that is fun, friendly and fits seamlessly into Kiwi homes. That experience remains consistent across both the “grown up” and Kids versions of Alexa, but the key difference is parental controls and freshly-created kid-friendly content to give parents more comfort and control around how kids engage with Alexa. With the new Parental Dashboard, you can now manage your kids interactions with Alexa to ensure The Wiggles music isn’t being played at 6am, games are disabled for a period if your child needs some time out, and kids aren’t listening to music with lyrics you’d rather they weren’t singing along to.
We have great, kid-friendly content available including plenty of jokes, stories and silly songs. Another great feature is ABC Kids listen – a 24/7 radio station with music, stories and dedicated kids programming. Kinda like What Now? but for radio.
Shane: Alexa has previously and currently had suggestions for kids games, are we now seeing a virtual ‘zone’ just for the younger people in the household with Alexa for Kids?
Kate: As Alexa and voice have become part of our daily lives, kids have naturally seen those interactions and been curious to see what else Alexa can do. Fart jokes are one of our most popular pieces of content and we’re pretty sure it’s not all adults asking for them! With Alexa often in a shared room in the home, customers have been telling us they wanted a kid-friendly Alexa option and we’re excited to have Amazon Kids on Alexa now available to fill that need. You can set up a dedicated device in “Kids Mode”; or set up a Child Profile, which means the Amazon Kids experience is automatically served when your child speaks to Alexa on your shared family devices.
Shane: Parental control is super important – had this always been in the works for Amazon smart devices?
Kate: Privacy and trust are foundational to the design of all our devices and services. Customers tell us they have Alexa in common areas of the home, so it’s crucial that we’re able to provide an experience that all members of the household are able to use in an appropriate way.
Our highest priorities with Alexa are protecting your privacy, keeping your information safe and providing you with transparency and control over your experience. Looking at how this comes to life in the Kids experience, Echo devices include multiple layers of privacy protection, from requiring verifiable parental consent to enable the Kids experience, to giving parents to view and delete their child’s voice recordings.
Shane: If a parent uses the same Alexa device as their children, can it be switched from Kid mode to adult mode easily?
Kate: Sure can! And the switch as simple as speaking to your device. Dynamic profile switching allows an (adult) Alexa account owner to set up profiles for each member of the family. When you set up a Child profile, Alexa will switch to Kids Mode when it recognises a child’s voice, then switch back to the regular Alexa experience when it recognises an adult.
Shane: With the Amazon Echo Show 15, Amazon introduced facial recognition – will this work and recognise if there is a kid present instead of an adult when commands are voiced?
Kate: Visual ID was designed to deliver a personalised screen-based experience for different members of the family when devices sit in shared areas like the kitchen or living room. It’s up to parents whether they choose to have a Visual ID profile for their kids, or just stick with the voice option.
If parents do choose to set up a Visual ID, on an Echo Show device (5, 8, 10, or 15), it will switch to Kids Mode when the camera cover is open and the child comes into view.
Shane: What else can we come to expect with Alexa for Kids in the future?
Kate: Kids love voice – it’s natural and for many of the younger ones – like my 7 and 10 year olds – voice and touch are their default options when it comes to interacting with technology.
Ultimately we want Alexa to be a fun way for kids to learn, play and grow. We have a great lineup of content with Kinderling, The Stolen Stars of Matariki, Nickelodeon and more, and our local editorial team will continue to create fresh jokes, stories, riddles, songs and fun Alexa responses for the Kids experience.