At Language Preschools, we’re fans of our Echo and our Echo Dot (yes, we have two devices–one for upstairs and one for downstairs). So when we recently learned of the release of Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition, we got excited.

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Where are we with smart speaker technology & language learning?

Right now (Spring 2018), language learning with smart speakers is in its infancy. We have no doubt, though, that the technology will continue to evolve–and rapidly, we predict. Fluency in other languages is a coveted skill worldwide. We expect that it’s only a matter of time before smart speaker technology catches up with the demand for language learning via smart speakers. If you think about it, the audio capabilities of smart speakers lend themselves to language acquisition. We can’t wait to see what’s around the corner with this technology.

What’s different about the Echo Dot Kids Edition?

The Echo Dot Kids Edition comes in three fun colors: blue, green and “punch red.” It’s packaged in a protective case that can be used for transporting and storing the Dot.

Here’s what else you get with the device:

  • 1-year access to FreeTime Unlimited featuring more kid-friendly, family-friendly content than you could use in a year
  • 1-year access to ad-free kids’ radio stations and playlists
  • 1-year access to over 300 Audible books
  • 1-year access to premium kids’ “skills”
  • 2-year warranty

For all of these add-ons, the kids’ Echo Dot is only slightly more expensive than the standard Echo Dot ($79.99 for the kid version compared to $49.99 for the standard version). And every bit worth the price tag, in our opinion.

Echo Dot Kids Edition & parental controls

So your kids, in their bedrooms, alone with a smart speaker / personal assistant. What could go wrong? Um…LOTS, you’re probably thinking. Without parental controls, the setup could potentially produce a bad situation, but the device designers had some forethought here.

With the Echo Dots Kids Edition, parents can be assured that:

  • Music with explicit language is automatically filtered out
  • Voice shopping is automatically deactivated
  • Daily time limits for usage can be set
  • Parents get access to a Parent Dashboard to review all Dot activity and create even more controls for peace of mind

Echo Dot Kids Edition & your child’s privacy

Concerns have been raised about the Echo Dot Kids Edition as it relates to kids’ and families’ privacy. This is understandable, especially when major corporate technology giants (which will go unnamed here) are coming under fire for their irresponsibility with consumer data.

Certainly, vigilance for our child’s protection is critical. A couple of precautions we take with our Amazon Echo devices:

  • Turning off the shopping feature
  • Unplugging the Echo when not in use (alternatively, you can turn off the microphone, but we like to take the extra step and just unplug. After all, #childhoodunplugged, right?)

Technology, in all its glory and its potential downfalls, isn’t something we take lightly. At the end of the day, however, here’s our verdict:

We are fans of the Echo Dot Kids Edition.

It goes without saying that the kids’ Dot is no replacement for good, hands-on parenting.

As we mentioned in the beginning of those post, we are certain that, with the right protocols, the Echo Dot will be the beginning of a new wave of technology–a new wave that includes audio-first features for language learning. Even, and maybe especially, for the kids.

During the course of history, new technology has always been scrutinized. It makes sense. But let’s continue to track what happens with smart speakers and personal assistants, particularly where language learning is concerned.

Ready to take the plunge and buy an Echo Dot Kids Edition? Get yours here!

If you’re interested in more tools and resources for bilingual kids, check out the other resources we recommend on our Resources page.