Remember when you first learned how to echo? Maybe you were on a hike and your voice reflected off a wall or mountain. Maybe you were imitating or repeating everything said by your best friend. Maybe you were eliciting a sympathetic response to a sentiment expressed.
Until recently echo meant any or all of the above. With the introduction of Amazon Echo and, most recently, Echo Dot For Kids into homes around the world, the word “echo” has taken on new meaning.
Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses a smart speaker Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, read the news and more.
Echo Dot For Kids, is being marketed as a kid-friendly DJ, comedian, and storyteller. Boys and girls can ask her to play music, read stories, answer questions, tell jokes and more. If there are compatible Echo devices in the house, parents and kids can even “talk” to each other or tell each other good morning or good night.
Unlike the outdoor echo experience of a voice bouncing off canyon walls, young voices are heard, responded to by a voice-activated speaker recording everything your child says all in the “privacy” of your own home.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that children are a key market for tech companies. With the introduction of Echo Dot For Kids, advocates by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) say voice activated devices could prove to be a security risk as well as just one more device to encourage compulsive technology use. Further, Google, Amazon and Facebook have all introduced devices or messaging services for kids that could potentially put a child’s privacy at risk and cause further exploitation.
What’s next? Is parenting being replaced with devices? What are tech companies doing to promote face-to-face, authentic, family connections?