One way that Amazon helps make its Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers stand out from the competition—especially the iPad—is with features designed specifically for children. And Amazon is now bringing FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited to its Echo speakers.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited, and detailing how parents can use the service to help manage an Echo device for their children.
What Is Amazon FreeTime?
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is designed for kids aged between three and 10. Using Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, children can take advantage of a number of curated books, movies, TV shows, apps, games, and more.
Parents can create individual profiles for each child in their household and choose what content is accessible. They can also set screen time limits and even set educational goals for kids.
You can turn on the no-cost FreeTime feature for an Echo using the companion Amazon Alexa app for iOS or Android devices. From the side menu, select Alexa Devices and then pick the specific Echo. Then toggle the FreeTime switch to On.
The service automatically filters out any explicit songs available on Amazon Music, one of the many ways to play music via your Echo and Alexa.
Parents should also be happy to hear that voice shopping is completely switched off when using FreeTime, so there’s no need to worry about your kids making expensive purchases by themselves.
Both FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited are now available for any Echo that doesn’t have a touchscreen. So as long as you don’t have an Echo Show or Echo Spot, you’re good to go.
Unfortunately, FreeTime isn’t accessible on other third-party products that offer Alexa functionality like the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat and others.
What Content Do You Get With FreeTime Unlimited?
Starting at $2.99/month for Prime members with a single child, you can also bring FreeTime Unlimited to any Echo. A subscription will unlock the service on all applicable Amazon devices.
One of the best ways people of any age can interact with Alexa is through the awesome Alexa skills, of which there are many. The voice-controllable apps open up a number of fun possibilities like ordering a pizza or even playing Jeopardy!
With FreeTime Unlimited, kids can access a number of exclusive premium skills on their Echo. Some of the options include Disney Stories from Disney, No Way That’s True from Nickelodeon, and National Geographic’s This or That.
You can take a look at a number of other kid-friendly skills here. To activate a specific skill, just say “Alexa, open [skill name.]”
As any parent knows, getting children up in the morning can be a challenge. But the FreeTime Unlimited subscription brings a bundle of different character alarms to help raise your kids from their slumber.
Your child can select to wake up with SpongeBob, Joy from Inside Out, or a number of other fun choices. To set a specific alarm sound, open the Alexa app and choose Reminders & Alarms from the sider menu. After selecting Alarms, click on Manage alarm volume and default sound. Finally, under Custom Sounds, choose Alarm to see the available choices.
And if, for some reason, the alarm doesn’t phase your kids, you can always use an Echo as an intercom to let them know they need to wake up.
Since most adults use Alexa for playing music, FreeTime Unlimited offers options there too. There are a number of ad-free playlists and live music stations available to listen to from iHeartRadio.
Some playlists include Morning Wakeup, Slumber Party, Disney Junior, and others. Take a look at all of the music and playlist options here. To start just say “Alexa, open iHeart Music and play [station or playlist name].”
Another great subscription perk is access to hundreds of kid-friendly Audible audiobooks. Everything from The Three Little Pigs to Treasure Island is available for kids to listen to. Just say “Alexa, read [book title].”
Manage Your Kids’ Tech Addiction With FreeTime
Both FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited can be managed through the Amazon Parent Dashboard. Unfortunately, there’s no smartphone app, so you’ll need to open it in a web browser.
Once you log in, there are a number of different control options available.
With a growing emphasis on managing children’s interaction with technology, parents can set limits on Alexa interaction at any time so kids can get to sleep or complete their homework without distractions.
Parents can also review their child’s Alexa activity and voice recordings.
One of the most interesting options available to turn on in the Dashboard is the Magic Word feature. When a child uses the word “please” when talking to Alexa, they’ll receive positive reinforcement from the virtual assistant.
Now, if only Alexa could get kids to clean their room, the technology revolution might finally be complete.
Say Hello to the Echo Dot Kids Edition
Along with the new FreeTime options, Amazon is also jumping in with a new child-friendly Echo Dot. The Echo Dot Kids Edition, while more expensive than the regular Echo Dot, offers a couple of advantages for parents.
Most importantly, it comes with a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited.
Parents can also pick from three different colors of cases—blue, green, or red—to help protect the smart speaker. Most notably, a two-year warranty should provide peace of mind. If the Echo Dot gets broken at any time during that time, for any reason, you’ll receive a free replacement.
While the Echo Dot Kids Edition looks great, there’s no need purchase a new Echo if your child already interacts with an Amazon smart speaker at home.
Ready to Read, Rock, and More
Amazon has always made younger technology users a priority with its devices. And by introducing FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited to the popular Echo line, parents can breathe easy knowing that children can interact with Alexa in a safe and fun environment.
And if you’d like to see other kid-friendly skills for any Alexa compatible device, take a look at our rundown of Amazon Alexa skills for kids.
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