​Alexa for kids: Skills, commands, and parental controls explained

Make your Echo speaker safer, smarter, and more fun

How to set up ​Alexa for your kids
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Kids love to play with Alexa, and Amazon knows it - the successful Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition is now in its second generation, and new accessories, skills, and features for kids are arriving every day.

On top of their very own Dot, kids get a full gamut of Alexa skills just for them, and a ton of age-specific content - including Audible books and music - courtesy of FreeTime Unlimited.

Parents get decent parental controls, the option to let Grandma, or other friends and family communicate with the little tyke through the speaker, and a family intercom that's handy for getting everyone round the table for dinner.

There's a lot to unpack here, including most importantly, how to make sure the device with a microphone, and possibly a camera, that you're putting in your child's room is safe. So read on for our full guide to making Alexa and Amazon Echo speakers safer, smarter, and more enjoyable for the junior members of the family.

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Alexa for kids: Skills, commands and parental controls explained

Best Alexa speaker for kids: Echo Dot Kids Edition

Buy now: Amazon | $69.99

After originally bringing out the Kids Edition in 2018, we now have a new version of the speaker, which has caught up with the third-gen Echo Dot it terms of style and specs. So, that means it gets the new fabric exterior instead of the interchangeable bumpers from the first go-around.

Instead, there's two color fabric designs to choose from: blue and rainbow. Amazon says the new design makes it 70% louder, too, which the kids will love.

The Kids Edition costs a little more than the third-gen Dot because it comes bundled with a free year of FreeTime Unlimited (regularly $2.99 a month for one child), plus a 2-year warranty (the guaranteed replacement service seems to have fallen by the wayside - yeah, kids are rough on electronics).

If you don't mind much about the colorful designs or the bundled FreeTime Unlimited subscription, you can actually set up any Alexa device to be chid-friendly (including - soon - Echo Show devices).

Just use the Alexa app to load up any Alexa speaker with FreeTime Unlimited for $2.99 a month, and add the parental controls for free. But we think the bundled subscription, extra warranty, and fun designs are worth the extra cash.

Read our full review of the Echo Dot Kids Edition here.

Alexa for kids: Skills, commands and parental controls explained

Best Alexa gadgets for kids: Echo Glow

Buy now: Amazon | $29.99

The Echo Glow is a smart lamp specially designed for kids. It's not a speaker itself, but you can pair it with your kid's Echo Dot and they can then control its color and brightness with their voice.

The 100 lumens lamp emits a warm white and a rainbow of colors, which you can use to help with kids sleep time routine (red means stay in bed, green means its time to get up), turn into a flickering campfire light for sleepovers, or as a sleep timer that gradually dims for bedtime and brighten when it’s time to wake up.

We'll be reviewing the Glow shortly, so check back soon for our take.

Alexa for kids guide: Skills, commands and parental controls explained

Best Alexa skills for kids

Once your little one has an Echo speaker of his very own, help him make the most of it with some of these excellent Alexa skills made just for him. (If you want to know about all the greatest Amazon Alexa skills for big kids, head over to our guide to the Best Alexa Skills.)

Sesame Street

Kids can chat to Elmo (can we have a go?) who loves to talk about his letter of the day and can even play hide and seek. Audio clues might reveal where he is – and kids can shout out where they think he might be.

Just say: Alexa, ask Sesame Street to call Elmo”.

SpongeBob Challenge

SpongeBob and the crew at the Krusty Krab are having a busy day flipping burgers, and have a lot of orders to remember. Kids can listen and repeat back the orders – and try and remember as many as they can.

Just say: “Alexa, start the SpongeBob Challenge”.

Amazon Storytime:

Short stories aimed at kids ages 5-12, and it’s all in conjunction with Audible so the quality is really strong.

Just say: “Alexa, ask Amazon Storytime to read me a story”.


Struggling to get the kids to brush their teeth? Chompers makes teeth time fun with jokes, riddles, songs and more, keeping children brushing for the full two minutes. It also keeps track of your brushing streaks, giving kids a reason to stick to the routine.

Just say: "Alexa, start Chompers from Gimlet".

Animal Game

Think of an animal and then play yes/no until Alexa guesses which one you’re thinking of.

Just say: “Alexa, play Animal Game”.

Wake up Clock

This might have a slim chance of working, but we’ll try anything to keep early risers in their beds for an extra hour. You set the time when it’s ok for your child to get out of bed. When they wake up they just need to ask whether it’s time to get up yet.

Just ask: “Alexa, ask My Clock if it is time to wake up”.

Lego Duplo Stories

Interactive stories designed to boost the imagination, Lego Duplo Stories are like a choose-your-own-adventure audio book. Your child is the captain of a pirate ship or a flying bird, choosing where they go and the adventures they set out on.

Just say: “Alexa, open Lego Duplo Stories”.

The Magic Door

Another interactive story game, The Magic Door lets kids made choices as they explore a fantasy world, collecting items, and meeting talking rabbits along the way.

Just say:"Alexa, open the magic door".

Moshi Twilight

Less interactive, the makers of Moshi Monsters provide bedtime stories with ambient sound effects, design to help little ones drift off.

Just say: “Alexa, ask Moshi Twilight to play a Sleep Story.”

Alexa for kids guide: Skills, commands and parental controls explained

Best Alexa commands for kids

Anyone who’s seen a child interact with Alexa for the first time will appreciate how exciting it can be for them. But guiding them towards rewarding commands can be a little confusing. If your children are just getting started with Alexa, here are some cool things they can ask.

“Alexa, flip a coin”

“Alexa, start bedtime audio book for 30 mins”

“Alexa, fart”

“Alexa, who's your daddy?”

“Alexa, tell me a story with a fairy tale ending”

“Alexa, ask Bored kids for a project”

“Alexa, sing me a song”

Alexa for kids guide: Skills, commands and parental controls explained

FreeTime vs FreeTime Unlimited: What's the difference?

There's some confusion around FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited and we're here to help clear it up.

FreeTime is Amazon’s parental control software. It’s completely free and can be turned on on any Amazon device, tablet or speaker in the settings. It lets you block off features such as adding items to shopping lists, turns on an explicit filter for music, and has extensive tools for setting time limits.

It also allows you to monitor what content your kids have been using and for how long. A new feature, just announced by Amazon, is the ability to Whitelist people who can call and be called by your child's Echo device, plus you can still view a log of any calls.

FreeTime also gives you access to other kid-focused features such as positive reinforcement for using the word “please,” automatically disabled voice-purchasing, and the option of “character alarms,” so they can wake up to Frozen’s Olaf or Cartoon Network’s Ben 10.

Read this: How I trained my smart home to be a third parent

FreeTime Unlimited is a premium tier, costing $2.99 a month for Prime Members ($4.99 if you're not in the club) for one child, or $6.99 ($9.99) for four children. You can also do a three-monthly or annual subscriptions to save money.

Content includes ad-free, age-appropriate (3-12 years old) curated radio stations, music playlists, Audible books and kid-specific skills for the Echo speakers. You also get TV shows, movies and games on devices with screens - including Kindles, iOS and Android tablets - through a FreeTime app. And, coming soon, all this will be available on Echo Show devices too.

The cost is the same no matter how many devices you use it across. FreeTime Unlimited is only available in the U.S. and Canada, but in other countries you can still use the FreeTime Parent Control Dashboard.

How to set up parental controls on an Echo

Setting up Parental Controls on your Amazon Echo device is a bit tricky, as there are multiple places you can do it, some of which offer more options than others. You can use a computer to access Amazon's Parent hub, go through the FreeTime app, or use the Alexa App.

Here's the best way to set up FreeTime parental controls on your child's Echo device.

1. Open the Alexa App
2. From the menu, select Devices.
3. Choose your child's Alexa device
4. Select FreeTime and enable it
5. You'll be prompted to select a child profile or set one up if you haven't already
6. Go back to FreeTime Settings, click on your child's name and work through the options listed

Once you're done here, download the FreeTime app onto your iOS or Android device or your child's Kindle or tablet and follow these steps:

1. Sign your child in to their newly created profile
2. Tap to switch profiles and choose Launch Parent Dashboard
3. Enter your Amazon password and you'll come to a mobile version of Amazon's Parent Dashboard (which can also be view on the web here.)
4. Some of the same settings you find in the Alexa app are here, but there is also the option to toggle the age filter, manage Prime Video access (which will be useful when you can use a Show device with FreeTime)

How to disable voice purchasing or add a pin

One of Alexa's greatest conveniences also holds the most potential danger. Voice purchasing can make replenishing paper towels a breeze, but you don't want want to end up finding 50 Lego Death Stars at the door because your kids discovered that your Echo could be turned into an all-year Santa.

To enable or disable voice purchasing on all your Echo devices, or add another layer of security, do the following:

1. Open the Alexa app.
2. Tap Settings.
3. Tap Alexa Account.
4. Hit Voice Purchasing.
5. You can toggle voice purchasing on/off. You can also add a pin code that will need to be read out before Alexa processes any transactions.

TAGGED    amazon alexa

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