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Should you buy your child an echo or Google Home?

It's an exciting time to be a kid. From tablets to smartphones to your fridge, everything is smarter and more fun for kids. And with the recently released Echo Dot Kids Edition your children were able to speak and play with their own voice for the first time. [194559008] The 79er Kids Edition comes in a protective cover to protect it from knocks and falls child-friendly audiobooks, games and music. Alexa herself is seemingly harmless, as she tells jokes, gives advice and answers the ceaseless questions of her children in a friendly and patient manner.

There are concerns, however, of always giving your child a hearing aid: what does it or can it do, and can your child use it for other purposes than you intended? The same goes for the cute Google Home Mini .

We've been asking tech and security experts about the pros and cons of having a smart speaker for your child, whether it's a child-specific or real-world solution. We found that.

Reasons for an Echo or a Google Home

It's just fun. Some of the highest rated Alexa games are aimed at children, such as the ability Jeopardy! and the popular Choose-Your-Own Adventure games Magic Door and [19659002] Yes, Father . Other abilities bring banal activities in ways that parents find difficult to imitate. Bye Bye Cavities, for example, transforms your child's toothbrush routine into a mission to defeat the nefarious "cavity family" while reinforcing the proper brushing technique.

 Credit: Tom's Guide "title =" Photo credit: Tom's Guide "/> <span class= Photo credit: Tom & # 39; s s Guide In a recent Google-commissioned study by Kelton Research, 35 percent of Google Home owners said that the device was the entertainment for their children Amazon says that millions of households use Alexa today Clients tend to use Alexa with their families.

"The idea of ​​being able to talk and react with a computer is exciting for kids," Ben Arnold said Arnold says he is "definitely interested in buying an echo for his children." Kids love talking to Google Assistant or Alexa. They like this experience. "

It puts them ahead of the curve." Voice is one of the most exciting things to happen in technology, "Arnold said." Research supports him. "Voice assistants are one of the fastest growing technologies that have tripled in the last year, according to a recent CTA study (196590000).

MORE: Echo Dot Kids Edition Review: The Best Alexa for Kids
[19659007] In other words, when your child grows up, smart home technology will probably be more ubiquitous than we could have imagined the sooner your children listen to and speak to the language assistants
and the sooner they do Understand security risks that they bring the better they can be equipped for the future.

It means less screen time. Smartphone addiction is a real pro blem in children and adolescents: A Common Sense Media Survey showed that 50 percent of teens believe they are addicted to their phone, while 59 percent of parents reported that their teens were addicted, and 66 percent reported that their teenagers spend too much time on mobile devices.

Alexa can provide your children with an interactive, screenless alternative to mobile games and social media to prevent them from becoming too dependent. While many parents criticize their teens for using their phones instead of personal interaction, Alexa promotes conversation skills. With FreeTime you can even set positive reinforcement for the word "please".

"Children spend a lot of time on screens," Arnold said. But with Alexa, they are able to interact with off-screen technology using audio or their audio capabilities.

Why you should skip

Security and privacy concerns When it comes to smart home technology, convenience often carries security risks. Geoffrey Schorz, national training manager at Swann Communications, was open about echo devices: "I do not want them in my kids' rooms."

There are few instances when an Alexa device is actually hacked, and Amazon says the Echo Dot Kids Edition complies with the Children's Privacy Protection Act. Again and again, new vulnerabilities emerge.

In April, security firm Checkmarx succeeded in developing an Alexa capability that allowed a hacker to take a user even after their interaction with Alexa had ended. Send this record to the hacker. In November Armis found out that Echo and Google Home devices were vulnerable to the nefarious Bluetooth-enabled exploit BlueBorne, which could allow hackers to remotely access the devices without the owner's knowledge. Amazon has quickly fixed these two vulnerabilities, but as echoing devices, they are becoming more and more popular "I'm sure I'll be more vulnerable," said Michael Parker, VP Marketing of Armis. "Do you remember when we got laptops and put them on the Internet boom, suddenly you had all these viruses?" he said. Intelligent devices are, he said, "the new attack vector".

But even if there is no hacker, misinterpretation of Alexa can lead to bad news. In late May an echo device inadvertently interpreted a background conversation as direct commands, ending the recording of a user's private conversation and sending it to another user in his address book. As an adult, these are risks that you can internalize but the last thing you want is Alexa sending a shot of your child to a stranger.

It's another distraction. Schorz warns parents against providing their children with a device that could distract them from homework, chores and bedtime. Since a child needs to say "Alexa" to start a game or activity, the temptation for some children may be difficult to resist, even if instructed not to use it.

MORE: Best Alexa Skills for Children

Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self Aware Parent, warns parents not to make their children dependent on Alexa for homework help Make reminders, Ubers calls or other amenities. Alexa's use, she believes, "allows dependency rather than promoting autonomy through your child to do things for herself."

And if your older kids have an Echo Dot with access to their Amazon account, they may be tempted to make purchases or download inappropriate content. "I've seen employees talking to Alexa and ordering things they should not," Parker said.

What to do if you decide to buy an echo or Google Home for your child

If you decide to buy your child an echo or Google Home, make sure you know how to keep it will secure. If you are worried about the safety of your child, remember to turn it off at night or even remove it. Keep up to date with the latest security vulnerabilities and consider limiting your child's use until they are patched. Schorz recommends to set some restrictions. "It's supervision. Watch what your kids do." Schorz does not allow his children access to their echo equipment or other electronics without permission and does not allow them in the bedrooms.

If you are worried about what your child is doing right now, set Parental Control to limit your time ( How to enable FreeTime on any Echo device ). An Amazon spokesperson said that they heard from a number of parents who paused their children's echo devices during homework to prevent distraction (and possible fraud).

And do not forget to keep track of their interactions and purchases (and maybe turn off language shopping when using the adult version) to make sure they do not abuse the privilege.

Credit: Amazon

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