How to set-up an Amazon Echo for a child - MrLiambi's blog

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Tuesday, 11 January 2022

How to set-up an Amazon Echo for a child

Alexa has made quite an impact on our homes and from the off, children have found it really easy - and fun - to engage with Amazon's digital assistant. 

With the Echo Dot being so affordable, it's an easy option for making an Echo available for your kids - perhaps in a bedroom or in a play room depending on their age.

But there are a few things you should consider and a few tweaks you should make - and there's a difference between the US and other regions where other devices are available.

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Should you get an Echo Dot Kids?

Amazon offers a version-specific kids' version of the Echo Dot. This not only comes with a 2-year warranty, but offers a 1 year subsciption to Amazon Kids+, Amazon's subscription service for kids, allowing access to child-specific content.

Even if you don't buy that version of the Echo Dot, you can enable Amazon Kids for that individual device and manage your Echo Dot via the parent dashboard online - which makes control a lot easier. You can find the Amazon parent dashboard here. 

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Keep it on your account

First of all, whether you have a subsciption to Amazon Kids+ or not, what's important is that you have all your devices, including any used by your kids, on your Amazon account. That means they are all controlled via one Alexa app and they all work together - and one of the advantages of having multiple Echo devices is that you can use announcements, for example, to call kids for meals wherever they are in the house.

Enable Amazon Kids

While there's options to engage controls across your Amazon account that will make your Echo devices more child friendly, there's also the option to engage Amazon Kids on a specific device. This will mean that that Echo has most of these measures engaged - it's basically a quick route into the parental controls for a device. 

This is particularly useful if you're putting an Echo in a child's room and you can find the option in the device settings in the Alexa app. Head to devices > Echo & Alexa then tap on the child's Echo. Then tap on the settings menu in the top right-hand corner, then scroll down to Amazon Kids. Once enabled, it's essentially a quick way into the Parent Dashboard, so you can control the settings for that device.

However, below we also take you through how to engage those settings manually.

Rename your Echo device

Once you've setup the Echo device, it's easy to rename it. Just head to the Alexa app and into the settings page for that individual device. (Tap devices > Echo & Alexa and then the devices you want to change.)

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Here you'll find the top option is for renaming that individual device. This is worth doing for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives the child ownership of the device, so rather than it being "Chris's third Echo Dot" it'll have their name. 

This actually benefits you, because you can easily see which device it is on the list - and if you have a full house of Echo devices, that's important so you can track what it's doing quickly. Alternatively, you could call it "play room" or something, depending on your setup.

Turn on Explicit Filter

The "explicit filter" aims to stop songs being played that have explicit lyrics in them. You can't apply it to individual devices, but if you have kids in your house, it makes sense to apply the filter across all devices, to avoid the occasional Ariana Grande F-bomb during your 5-year-old's party. 

In the Alexa app, open the menu and head into Settings > Music & Podcasts. Here you'll find the music controls and at the top is the Profanity Filter. Tap through and toggle it on.

 

The thing to note is that this only applies to services that support it - Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music - although it won't always catch all songs on those services, only those that have been marked as having explicit lyrics. Often the "radio" version will be played, but it's still possible for explicit songs to slip through.

There's also the option to deactivate the explicit filter by voice (in case you suddenly need sweary music?) - but it's best to leave this off - otherwise it can just be disabled. 

One thing to note is that services like TuneIn do not support explicit lyric filtering (because it's radio) - so if you're listening to a live broadcast or after the watershed there's every possibility that some enthusiastic artist or presenter will slip in some colourful language.

Turn off voice purchasing 

This is one of the things you should do as soon as you get an Echo, because anyone who can talk to your Echo can buy things from your Amazon account. If you have kids, you definitely do not want them buying a whole range of stuff without you knowing about it.

Again, this is a general Alexa account setting, so open the Alexa app and open the menu. Then go to Settings > Account settings > Voice Purchasing.

It's a toggle option and you could opt to have PIN protection, but it's safer to just turn it off - after all, the best way to browse and buy from Amazon is using the app.

Reviewing your voice history on Alexa

Ok, this one is a little more scary. As Alexa captures voice interactions, they're open to you for review. That means that you can, if you wish, monitor what Alexa might have been asked. If you're concerned that your kids' party descended into something inappropriate - involving Alexa - then you'll have voice recordings that you can review.

You can do this from the Alexa app, but it's easier on the bigger screen in your browser at amazon.co.uk/mycd or amazon.com/mycd and then click on Privacy Settings and then Alexa Privacy. Here you can sort by custom date ranges. 

Decide what Communications you want 

Communications include Announcements, Alexa Calling and messaging, and Drop In. Announcements are actually useful in a family home because you can say "Alexa broadcast 'it's time for dinner'" and the message is announced across all devices.

But you might not want your kids to be able to use the Drop In function where then can automatically start a two-way conversation with contacts. In the Alexa app, you can disable Drop In for each device - and you can disable it for yourself too, so you can never accept Drop In, meaning others cannot Drop In on you. The settings can be found Commincate > Contacts > My Communication Settings. Here you can turn off Drop In for yourself.

To disable the service on a particular device - such as an Echo in a child's room - head to that device in the Alexa app and in the device settings enter Communications. Here you can control Announcements and Drop In.

Further, you might want to consider the position with contacts in general. The Alexa app on your phone asks to access your contacts so that it can then call or message from your Echo device. If you don't use Alexa calling, then revoke this permission and Amazon won't then have access to your contacts - meaning your kids can't accidentally prank call people on your contacts list.

Use Do Not Disturb 

Amazon doesn't have proper scheduled hours for Alexa devices, but it does offer Do Not Disturb, where you can make sure that nothing is going to make a sound on that device at a particular time.

Head into the device settings for the individual Echo and you can select the time slot you want it to be engaged.

Remain responsible

For many, the gift of an Echo device will lead to hours of entertainment. It provides access to lots of music, answers to questions as well as some smart home control - but as a parent you still need to be in control. In the absence of a complete lock down of kids mode, as a parent you are still responsible for what your children do when they are using Alexa.

While using the tips for kids with Alexa above you can control some aspects of their usage, kids will explore and as with any internet-connected device, there needs to be some level parental boundary set to ensure that they are behaving themselves.

Sometimes, you might just have to pull the plug, or set your router to block that device at particular times if things get out of hand.



Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/parenting/news/amazon/146579-how-to-set-up-an-amazon-echo-for-a-child

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