Amazon recently introduced Alexa skills specifically made for children for the first time. Kids brands including Nickelodeon and Sesame Street have joined the effort and unveiled new skills.
Nickelodeon brought a memory game called The SpongeBob Challenge while Sesame Street developed an Elmo skill which plays hide-and-seek with kids using audio clues.
To enable the kids skills, parents will have to finish a verification process which requires them to either enter a one-time password sent via SMS or put in verification through the credit card registered with the Amazon account.
The one-time process gets permission from parents to let Alexa record their children’s voice and store it for a period of time. Once verified, children can use as many Alexa skills as they want.
Amazon had been unable to release Alexa skills for kids due to legal restrictions specified in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The COPPA dictates that companies need to have parents’ verifiable consent in order to store a child’s personal information if they are under 13. Just until June 2017, the COPPA guidance for business has voice-over internet protocol services and states that companies need to get permission from parents in order to store a child’s voice. Amazon therefore rolled out Parental Consent on Alexa.
Some existing Alexa skills already have children use cases, as some kids are already talking to the voice assistant when their parents brought home an Echo device. In the Novelty & Humor category on the Alexa Skill Store, there are over 1,500 skills listed, including bedtime stories, funny noises, jokes and more.
Game skills, which amount to over 5,400 in number, are also commonly used by children. New games that require Parent Consent, according to Amazon, include The Tickle Monster Game, Animal sounds quiz and Zoo Walk.
Under this new framework, more children brands are expected to soon begin working on their Alexa skill development.