In conjunction with the release of the Echo Dot Kids Edition, Amazon is bringing FreeTime to existing Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus devices. FreeTime is what Amazon calls their advanced parental control options and family-focused features found on their hardware devices, like Fire tablets and Kindle ebook readers. A paid subscription called FreeTime Unlimited will also be available, which primarily adds access to kid-friendly content, but FreeTime features are free for all.
Once FreeTime is added to Alexa devices, parents will be able to use the Parent Dashboard to choose which services and skills their kids can use and much more. It will provide insight into how your kids are using Alexa, such as which skills they are using and how much time they spend in each one.
Parents will also be able to set time limits for specific Alexa activities. A bedtime cutoff can be set to keep kids from using Alexa at night or you can select to pause Echo devices at will for things like dinner or homework time.
Parents will be able to block playback of music with explicit lyrics. This feature will only work for Amazon Music at first, but Amazon says they’ll continue to add compatible music services over time.
An interesting feature of FreeTime for Alexa is something Amazon is calling Magic Words. Amazon says Alexa will give kids positive reinforcement when kids use the word “please” while asking questions. Additionally, if kids say “Alexa, I’m bored,” the voice assistant will have age-appropriate suggestions at the ready.
Amazon FreeTime on Alexa will be available May 9th after a software update rolls out to existing devices. Only the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot Kids Edition, and Echo Plus will have these new features. It doesn’t seem like devices with screens, like the Echo Show or Echo Spot, will receive these parental controls and kid-focused features.