The Echo Dot has been one of Amazon’s most popular speakers, so it’s no surprise that they saw an opportunity to bring all the joy and magic and Orwellian fun of Alexa to kids in the form of the new Echo Dot Kids Edition available exclusively at Amazon. And it could be huge — but we’d like to know if you’d try it for your family.
[CMT is an Amazon affiliate]
The Echo Dot Kids Edition is essentially a combo storyteller, alarm clock, comedian, question answerer, and age-appropriate DJ for kids not quite ready for The Weeknd’s Starboy.
Questions you can expect to hear:
Alexa, play the theme song from Coco.
Alexa, wake me up at 7AM.
Alexa, read me Pete the Cat
Alexa, play Spongebob Challenge
Alexa, why does my mom always call me for dinner just when we start the Spongebob Challenge?
Oh, and if the kids say “please” with any request? They get some positive feedback, which is nice.
As for safety features, which would be my biggest concern, it’s pretty well covered. The FreeTime Unlimited connection for a kids’ companion Fire Kids Edition Tablet or an Android Device means you can use the parent dashboard to set filters and safety features, to see all their activity, and to monitor specific time spent on apps, books, videos, and the web. It even handles more…edgy questions with sensitive but factual answers, including, “that would be a better question for a grownup.”
Plus, a feature called Drop In gives you the ability to, well, drop in and chat from your own Alexa app or just give the kids a quick “yo, come on down,” should you want to call your kids to dinner or have them wrap up that video so you can hit the road together.
And halle-freaking-lujah, voice-activated shopping is turned off so no, they can’t order a pony. Or as my kids would probably order, 400 tons of slime.
Also, you can pause Alexa entirely for periods of time to stave off that urge for post-bedtime shenanigans.
So, let’s talk price.
While the original Echo Dot is $49.99, the Echo Dot for Kids is $79.99 — however it also includes a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, a colorful case (that’s the blue, green and red that you see — the Echo Dot for Kids only comes in black), and best of all for parents, a two-year guarantee. If they break it, you get a free replacement.
I imagine a few of you will be taking advantage of that one, amirite?
If you’re already an Amazon family, it’s a good deal considering a one-year FreeTime Unlimited plan for families is $83 for Prime members (as is everyone reading this, mostly), plus it give kids access to their own fun Echo Dot without having to mess with yours.
They suggest that the age range is 5-12, but as the mom of a 12 year old myself, I think that’s pushing it. I’d imagine my fifth grader might be into it, mainly for the dance party aspect, but older tweens and teens have pretty much aged out of a lot of the Kindle FreeTime content and are already making their own Spotify and Apple Music playlists. However you can connect the Echo Dot Kids Edition for any mobile device — except for the iPhone X and I imagine not many kids have one of those.
So don’t feel you have to get a Fire Kids Tablet, though if you’re an iFamily, be aware that FreeTime Unlimited is not compatible with iOS devices.
I haven’t tried it myself yet, but my sense is that it’s probably perfect for kids up to about 9 or 10 who are still getting a lot out of Kindle FreeTime Unlimited. If they’re older, stick with the regular Echo Dot — and a whole lot of screen time rules.
Find the brand new Echo Dot Kids Edition available exclusively at Amazon (a CMT affiliate) starting today and get a year of FreeTime Unlimited included, which will renew automatically after a year. You may also need a Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet to go with that Echo Dot.
Let us know whether you’d try it or not. We’d love to hear from you!
I’m super concerned about privacy considerations, like them retaining my child’s voice forever and any info they might have released to the device. Also, that lawsuit thing. Thoughts?