Alexa Gets an Update to Provide Kid-Friendly Answers

Is Santa real? Now Alexa won’t dash your kids’ dreams.
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Updated August 22, 2018
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Image: Courtesy Amazon

Alexa, where do babies come from?

Is Santa Claus real?

Those are just a couple from the long list of questions parents pray their kids don’t ask every family’s virtual encyclopedia—Amazon Alexa.

The new FreeTime feature is a kid-friendly way for the youngest members of your family to interact with the virtual assistant. Amazon worked with child psychologists to design a mode that answers questions differently when asked by kids, or suggests kids ask a “grown-up” instead, the Associated Press reports (AP).

“Alexa isn’t intended to be a replacement parent or caregiver,” Amazon said in a statement. “So we believe it’s important we treat these answers with empathy and point the child to a trusted adult when applicable.”

Other features parents will appreciate: In FreeTime mode, Alexa won’t play songs with explicit lyrics. You can also program specific times where Alexa won’t interact with kids, depending on whether they should be doing homework or getting ready for bedtime.

And, as tested by the AP, it even encourages kids to use manners. Whenever kids use the word “please” in their question, Alexa will not only provide an age-appropriate answer, but she’ll also give them a (virtual) nod of approval for using polite phrasing.

Using questions almost every kid is tempted to ask, the AP had a lot of fun testing out FreeTime.

“People make people, but how they’re made would be a better question for a grown-up,” is one way Alexa will reply to a question regarding how babies are made.

When asked about death, Alexa says, “That’s a hard question to answer. If you’re wondering about this, you should ask someone in your family, a teacher or a friend who you know and trust.”

And when asked the dreaded question—Is Santa Claus real?—Alexa’s quip is all the proof kids need. “Just check if the cookies you set out for him are gone Christmas morning,” she says.

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