- Google has added 50 audio experiences aimed at kids to its Google Home line of voice-based smart speakers, Variety reported, including family-friendly activities and games produced in partnership with Disney and Sports Illustrated.
- The activities include a Disney "Mickey Mouse Adventure" game, space trivia, Musical Chairs and audio version of fairytales about Cinderella and Snow White. The voice-based assistant can also respond to "Okay Google, help me with my homework."
- Parents can now add Google Home accounts for their children using the search engine's Family Link program. The feature lets kids personalize the device while also giving parents the ability to supervise their activities.
In its latest move, Google is looking to attract the youngest group of consumers before they have any real purchasing power. Emerging technology directed at children is often a sensitive issue, especially as parents navigate the relatively new space of leaving their kids alone with internet-connected mobile devices.
Perhaps some of those concerns will be allayed with Google Home's parental controls, educational activities and games produced in partnership with established family-friendly companies like Disney and SI. Google still must tread carefully when it comes these new offerings, as several companies have recently faced backlash over child privacy concerns. Toymaker Mattel earlier this month withdrew a smart speaker for kids after howls of protest from advocacy groups claiming the "kid version of Amazon Alexa" would act as a spy from infancy through adolescence.
Many parents still won't like the idea of a potentially Big Brother-esque device monitoring their kids and gleaning their information. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said children's bedrooms should be free of corporate snooping and data collection that could be used for ad targeting. The advocacy group also cited additional worries, such as using kids for artificial intelligence experiments, training kids to accept constant surveillance and teaching babies to form bonds with inanimate objects instead of human beings.