Are Smart Speakers Safe for Kids?

Are Smart Speakers Safe for Kids?

Now and then, a story about children and Alexa or Google Assistant smart speakers makes the news. These tales are frequently cheerful, yet they can also be dark. Should children be allowed to use smart speakers?

Smart speakers and screens are not the safest devices for children to use. But, there are methods you can use to reduce the hazards. Although Google and Amazon could do a lot better, they have some options.

Raising Concerns

Smart speakers with AI assistants always listen to what's going on around them. Also, they wait for commands while soaking up whatever conversation is going on. Some of it is genuinely vetted by Google and Amazon workers.

Unfortunately, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri always record the talks of users of all ages, including your children.

kid-and-smart-speaker

Adults can create their accounts and accept the privacy compromises. You're aware of what you're putting yourself into to some extent. In contrast, children do not know what they've "signed up" for.

Before your child is old enough to use a computer, Google or Amazon can start constructing a profile. Companies can easily do this if you've already set up an account on your child's behalf.

As you could think, this irritates a large number of people. Parents and advocacy groups have expressed concern about Alexa's capacity to record children. Of course, without their explicit agreement. In June, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle. It alleges that Amazon is breaking kid privacy laws in at least eight states. It records millions of children's voices.

For their part, Amazon denies any wrongdoing. And the business has taken a dramatic step forward by producing a new Echo Dot Kids Edition. It is a candy-coated, rainbow-plastered version with additional parent-friendly features. It looks like a free membership to its FreeTime content program and repairs for damaged units.

echo-dot-kids-edition

Both Amazon And Google Must Improve

The Amazon Echo and other comparable devices become household fixtures. But, there is growing opposition to the notion that such ongoing "monitoring" is worth the benefits and convenience it provides.

Deral Heiland is a research leader at security firm Rapid7. He feels that many devices provide a learning experience for children. In that case, Parental controls should be used to make them as kid-friendly as possible. On the other hand, Amazon must be able to address concerns and set parents' minds at ease, according to him.

kid-using-smart-speaker-with-parent-control

There will never be a perfect result, and we will always learn lessons along the road. But, according to Heiland, Amazon needs to be particularly cautious about children's electronics.

"With children-based technology, extra precautions should be taken," he says. "Like any product, our good intentions will often fail. But when it does there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, speaking. Amazon must work harder to make their products capable of keeping children safe."

Conclusion

It's up to you if you're happy with the potential privacy compromise and sure there's no real threat. On the other hand, are the rewards worth it if you're concerned about the situation? Amazon and other companies might take steps to make smart speakers safer for children.

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Paul Syverson
WRITTEN BY
Paul Syverson
Paul Syverson is the founder of Product Reviews. Paul is a computer scientist; he used to carry out a handful of significant studies which contributed to bringing in many special features on the site. He has a huge passion for computers and other tech products. He is always diligent in delivering quality writings to bring the most value to people. Syverson.org |

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