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 random videos. I showed him how to set up parental controls and block those activities 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.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
125W charging is coming — what do you think about that?
125W charging speeds are coming soon. What's your take on this? Whether you think it's amazing or overkill, we want to hear from you!
AV1 codec: What it is and why it's so important for the future of video
In the ever-changing world of high-definition codecs and formats, AV1 is a standard that hasn’t had much of the spotlight yet, but it could be very important in the coming years. But first, let’s take a look at its history and its purpose.
Google has an interesting defense in its latest anti-trust battles
Could Google being too dominant actually be bad for its own bottom line? That's some of what a new filing from Google's legal team is saying.
Create the ultimate home theater experience with these Android TV boxes
Android TV options are much more vast than previously, but it can be tough to sift through the bad ones to find the good options. We have found some of the best options on the market, including those just recently released.