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May 8 2018

Alexa Encouraging Kids to Be Polite

by Charlotte Hays

Youngsters apparently were being rude to Alexa, and so Amazon took action.

USA Today reports:

Soon, when your youngster asks Alexa to solve a math problem by exhibiting good manners—“Alexa, please tell me what 5 plus 7 is”—the voice inside the Echo will not only supply the right answer but will then add positive reinforcement: “By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.” 

This new “magic word” feature, as Amazon calls it, starts to roll out in a software upgrade for the Echo, Echo Plus and Echo Dot smart speakers May 9, as part of a set of free parental controls called FreeTime for Alexa.

The feature reveals that Amazon is paying attention to a loud chorus of customers who were concerned that the act of rudely commanding Alexa to do something sends out the wrong kind of message, especially to the youngest members of your household.

Alexa will promote politeness among the small fry by new parental controls:

The new parental controls for Echo are a version of the FreeTime parental controls that debuted five years ago  on Amazon’s kid-friendly Fire tablets. 

The controls will allow parents to block explicit material. They will also make it possible for kids to receive more kid-appropriate answers to questions. For example, if an adult asks how many planets there are, Alexa will just say eight. But, if a youngster asks the same question, Alexa will name the planets and even provide some memorable tidbits.

And what if kids ask that question they all most want to know--where do babies come from?

Alexa is discreet:

Should the child wonder how babies are made, Alexa answers, “People make people, but how they’re made would be a better question for a grown-up.” 

In a world of too much rudeness, thank-you, Ms. Alexa. 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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