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BBC first smart-speakers for kids ‘Alexa, read me a story’.

Children are getting used too giving orders to smart speakers, as parents are investing in devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home  and Apple Homepad. It is increasingly common to hear children say ‘Alexa, read me a story’. The BBC have joined this new trend by launching its first voice-app for children under the CBeebies brand.

Cbeebies is a children TV show that is owned by the BBC. It is aimed at preschoolers and has over 13 hours of TV shows. The Cbeebies website itself has plenty of games and activities for children, including puzzles, songs, coloring and many more.

What is CBeebies voice app for children :

  • It is known as BBC kids and it is available through Amazon Echo using its voice assistant known as Alexa.
  • Once you have enabled Alexa voice assistant kids can now say ‘Alexa, open Cbeebies’
  • Currently Cbeebies have 3 shows that are available through its smart speakers : Little Monster’s Hide and Seek, Andy’s Adventure Dance Part and Go Jetter’s Glitchy Facts
  • BBC kids will continue to add more shows as it goes along.

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Is CBeebies voice app safe for children?

There has been debates whether children should be communicating with smart speakers. A report from The Wired pointed out that when children starts ordering their smart speakers they are learning to communicate in a demanding and rude manner. The worry is widespread that Amazon and Google Voice Assistant encourages children to say the word ‘please’ when making a request.

The Echo Dot which is Alexa for kids will also thank children when they have asked for something nicely. Google Assistant is also now reminding children to ‘ say the magic word’ before granting their commands.

BBC emphasis that it wants its voice app to be a safe place for children. Its executive Mukul Devichand stated that “The technology is still new and we’re experimenting with what works well and what our audiences really want on these new platforms,”

If your children are watching Cbeebies TV shows then you will be aware that the content generated are age appropriate and safe for children. It is most likely that their voice app will just be as safe and strictly monitored by the Cbeebies team.

Tips on keeping children safe when using smart speakers :

  • When introducing a new technology at home set some rules on how it can be used. Listen to how your kids are communicating with Alexa and explain why they should be talking politely
  • Switch on the parental control setting for your device. This way your children will not be able to make purchases or play music they should not be listening too.
  • Do know that smart speakers are never 100% secure. There are privacy issues surrounding this devices.
  • Smart speakers can also go wrong. This a video of a boy asking Alexa to play a children song, but it was misunderstood as asking for porn content, and Alexa started to talk about sex toys. The parents of the child panicked and told Alexa to stop.
  • Ensure that you do not place smart speakers in your children’s bedroom. All devices should be kept in the living room so you can closely monitor how your children are using the devices.
  • Encourage your children to read. Getting all the answers from Alexa instantly might make them lazy.

Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age : 

3 simple ways to keep children safe online 

Stop Google from tracking you and your kids every movement

New Parental control feature on Pokemon Go you should know about

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