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Echo Dot Kids Edition
© 2018

CTR Review
For ages 3-up
For grades P, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Teaches: A smart speaker for children. Language.
This is a regular $50 black Echo dot, only in a colorful bounce proof silicon wrapper. Question 1: Why does a device you rarely touch needs a protective case? Question 2: Why the difference in the cost between the regular Dot and the Kids Edition? It's the one year of access to the audio content that is part of Amazon's "FreeTime Unlimited." This includes 300 Audible books for kids, like Beauty & the Beast and Peter Pan, thousands of songs, and kid-favorite games and COPPA compliant kid skills from Disney, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. Kid skills are skills that have been identified by the developer as directed to children under age 13. Amazon requires permission from a parent before kid skills can be used. After you’ve given permission, you will receive a confirmation e-mail.

The key feature is the cloud based Parent Dashboard (managed through your laptop or Amazon Echo App running on your phone or tablet) that lets you customize your Echo for your child. What can a child do with a smart speaker like an Echo Dot? A lot. Kids of all ages love the voice interface, and use it for all kinds of things -- especially playing music, asking questions, and setting timers. The Parent Dashboard lets you manage the FreeTime Unlimited "skills" from publishers like Disney, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. If you have several Echos on the same Wi-Fi network, you can set them up as an in-house intercom.

Parents review activity, set limits at bedtime, filter explicit songs from Amazon Music and toggle off voice shopping. The kids version comes with more positive interaction style that includes "please" and "thank you."

The bundle comes with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, and a kid-friendly case and a two year guarantee. The included 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited includes access to ad-free radio stations and playlists, Audible books, and a growing list of premium kids skills. After one year, your subscription will automatically renew every month, with prices that start at $2.99/month plus tax.

Potential concerns: Amazon's content follows the main cultural rivers, serving as pipeline to mainstream forms of media. The initial cost involves hidden purchases. If you use your Amazon Echo Kids for 10 years, you'll have invested a minimum of $530, providing you don't terminate your FreeTime subscription.

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