An updated version of the Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa will refuse to respond to youngsters’ questions on risque topics.
Amazon is to provide a new version of its voice assistant Alexa that won’t tell children where babies come from or if Santa is real. The topics that the child-friendly Alexa won’t discuss will also extend to current affairs, such as what Stormy Daniels does for a living.
When Amazon’s new FreeTime kids feature is activated it will decline to answer questions that children could potentially find upsetting and instead tell them to ask an adult. The company says it collaborated with child psychologists to develop some of Alexa’s answers, and that the voice assistant is “always getting smarter” with updated answers.
Amazon has developed a number of games which are designed to encourage children to use the voice assistant Alexa which comes with its Echo devices.
This has prompted groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to warn parents that the assistant puts children’s privacy at risk and harms child development. Amazon has said it takes privacy and security seriously and encourages parents to use the device with their children.
“Alexa isn’t intended to be a replacement parent or caregiver,” the company stated. “So we believe it’s important we treat these answers with empathy and point the child to a trusted adult when applicable.”
Parents will also be able to set time-based controls on Alexa, so that it will refuse to respond to children’s’ enquiries when they should be studying or sleeping, telling them: “Sorry, I can’t play right now, try again later.”