Do you sometimes feel like the world is starting to populate with a bunch of entitled brats? That’s an unfair blanket outlook, though no doubt there are some rude children out there who will grow up to be rude adults. It ultimately falls on parents to teach their kids good behavior, and to supplement those efforts, Amazon is rolling out a “Magic Word” update its Echo Dot Kids Edition to encourage using the world “please.”
Amazon is addressing a concern by parents that digital assistants are essentially teaching kids rude or entitled behavior. Not on purpose, of course, but when you are able to bark commands at a digital assistant that sounds somewhat human, there’s a risk of falling into the habit of expecting obedience from others. It can also train children to use language that wouldn’t be appropriate in the real world, when speaking to an actual person.
“Hearing a child boss around a digital assistant could be disconcerting,” said Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, told the Chicago Tribune. “It just doesn’t sound nice, and I think you could say that to your kid: It’s not a good habit to get into.”
The upcoming update will not force children (or adults) to say “please,” but it will encourage politeness. When a child uses the magic word, Alexa will respond to the request as it normally would, followed by saying, “By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.” It’s not clear if Amazon will keep things fresh by programming Alexa to respond with a mix of polite responses, but either way it’s nice to see Amazon implementing some thing like this, and doing it unobtrusively.
You can order the Echo Dot Kids Edition now for $80 on Amazon. The hardware is the same as the regular Echo Dot, but comes in a variety of color options and specialized content and services geared towards children.
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