Amazon introduced the first Alexa skills for children, opening a way for brands to interact with the under-13 demographic through voice-activated digital assistants. A Verified Parental Consent feature lets the children-targeted skills operate in accordance with child data protections such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), TechCrunch reported.
Kid skills available today include The SpongeBob Challenge from Nickelodeon, Sesame Street from Sesame Workshop, and Amazon Storytime, as well as several more games including The Tickle Monster Game!, Animal Sounds, Animal sounds quiz, Old Macdonald, Silly Things and Zoo Walk, according to an Amazon blog post.
Parents can give permission by verifying their identity using a one-time SMS code sent to the mobile phone number in their Amazon account, or by entering the security code of the credit card in their Amazon account. Alexa will save the parental consent and access to kid skills won’t require another verification.
Voice-activated devices are exploding in popularity, especially among millennials who are reaching child-rearing age and can be expected to entertain and educate their kids with the help of a digital assistant. The adoption of voice-activated devices has more than doubled in the past year, and it’s estimated that 60.5 million U.S. consumers will use a voice assistant at least once a month this year, TechCrunch reported, citing data from eMarketer.
Amazon said hundreds of developers are interested in creating Alexa skills aimed at children, which can be expected now that digital assistants are becoming more popular as a computing platform. In designing skills for kids, Amazon recommends that developers think about how kids might want to try new things and what they might say, encourage exploration and help kids discover fun surprises.
Alexa’s most important skill eventually may be babysitting children, if the products at the Consumer Electronics Show in January were any indication, according to CNet. Mattel developed a digital assistant for kids called Aristotle, which also has Alexa installed, that can play white noise, monitor a sleeping baby with a camera, read stories with sound and light effects, play games and teach new languages. The Memoo, Snoo, and Yobi devices are also aimed at kids.