Everyone worries about raising kids in the digital age. Parents want to be able to make decisions about what sort of information their kids get about the world around them, instead of kids being able to access it before they might be ready. For instance, I would have been one of those parents who would have passed out with grief if my kids found out that Santa Claus was (allegedly) not real via some digital device. But parents, take heart. If you're worried about what Amazon virtual assistant Alexa will tell your kid about Santa, it shouldn't be a problem.
Of course not every parent wants their kid to believe in Santa Claus or anything, but here's the thing; these sort of decisions should be left to parents. If a parent wants their kid to still believe in Santa Claus, then that's their thing. And apparently, Amazon agrees. Because the company has updated Alexa with a kid-friendly feature called Free Time to fend off any sensitive questions parents or guardians would prefer to field themselves. Not just about the wonderful man in red from the North Pole either; questions like "What happens when I die?" and "What does Stormy Daniels do for a living" have different responses once Free Time is activated on the voice assistant.
Amazon.com worked with child psychologists to come up with the best ways to answer sensitive questions because, as the company explained in a statement, they are not in the business of acting as a "replacement caregiver" for kids, according to Yahoo:
Alexa isn't intended to be a replacement parent or caregiver. So we believe it's important we treat these answers with empathy and point the child to a trusted adult when applicable.
With that in mind, Alexa is equipped to share child-friendly versions of responses to questions when Free Time has been activated. For instance, when a person asks "Where do babies come from?" the normal response is:
Babies are made through the process of reproduction.
When a kid asks the same question on Free Time, Alexa will answer:
People make people, but how they’re made would be a better question for a grown-up.
If kids ask "what happens when you die," that question that sent me into a clammy panic every time any kid asks me about it, Alexa will answer:
That’s a hard question to answer. If you’re wondering about this, you should ask someone in your family, a teacher, or a friend who you know and trust.
Perhaps my favorite kid-friendly response of Alexa's? When kids ask whether or not Santa is real, Alexa will answer:
Just check if the cookies you set out for him are gone Christmas morning.
There are kid-friendly answers to other pressing questions little ones might have about marijuana, why they have to go to school, and more. The new Free Time feature also rewards kids for using their manners when asking a question and if a parent sets times when kids are meant to be sleeping or something, Alexa simply won't answer their questions.
In other words, Alexa is like a super helpful aunt who backs you up and follows your rules when you're not around to enforce them. I love it. And I love the idea that Alexa will automatically edit out expletives in songs when Free Time has been activated, according to AP News. I know this might feel like a small step in the right direction, but let's face it; kids are going to have access to so much information that parents won't be able to control as they grow. It's nice to know that a few things will still be kept within the parents' domain.
And also, protect Santa at all costs.