The other day a family member asked me to help him figure out how his youngest daughter, who isn't even two yet, was spending money on his Fire tablet. She had apparently spent more than $20 just clicking around and buying stuff. I showed him how to set up parental controls and block that sort of stuff from happening automatically but not before accidentally spending $2 myself. Amazon does not put a lot of barriers between you and spending money, and that can be an issue if you have young children. Especially when they learn to say "Alexa."
Let's start with the Echo Dot Kids Edition. It is available for pre-order for $79.99, comes in three basic colors, and will release on May 9. For the most part it looks just like a regular Echo Dot, but it comes with a kid-friendly rubber case, one-year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, and a two-year worry-free guarantee that will replace it if your kids get too rough with it - no questions asked.
FreeTime on Alexa has been around for a while now, but the service is being expanded to include a lot more parental controls and family-oriented options. It can be added for free to any Echo device.
With FreeTime you can set time limits for the Echo Dot to keep your kids from talking to her well into the night, turn off things like voice purchasing (you're welcome, family member of mine) and other services and skills you don't want your kids to access (Uber, Domino's, etc), and review your kids' activity. If you subscribe to Amazon Music, you can block certain songs, Alexa can have age-appropriate ideas for your children at the ready, too, with knock-knock jokes, voice games to play, and educational questions to ask. The "Magic Word" feature will even give them positive reinforcement when they say "please." FreeTime will also enable the Echo Dot to be used like an intercom, so you can communicate with your children from across the house.
FreeTime Unlimited expands on that service to add more than 300 free audiobooks from Audible, kid-friendly radio stations and music playlists from iHeartRadio Family, and new Alexa skills developed by kid-friendly brands like Disney, Nickelodeon, and National Geographic. You can even set alarms using voices from some of your kids' favorite characters.
The FreeTime Unlimited service is restricted to Echo devices that don't have video, like the Echo Dot and Echo Plus. If you're already a subscriber, the new features will be added at no additional cost. If you aren't, it will cost $2.99 a month for Prime members.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition starts at $80, which is $30 more than a regular Echo Dot. But a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which the Kids Edition gets for free, is worth $36 at $2.99 a month. So you're really saving money on that service and you still get the worry-free guarantee as well. It's not a bad way to go if you have young kids that are starting to master your electronics faster than you ever did.
You can also get a year of FreeTime Unlimited, with all its new services, packaged with the Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet.
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