Smart speakers are great, aren’t they? They can turn on your TV, stream your music and even babysit your pet parrot while you’re at work.
Although digital voice assistants like Alexa can sometimes be creepy, they can also be extremely helpful. And even children are figuring that out.
Just ask 6-year-old Jariel how helpful they can be. The young boy went viral just before Christmas when his mom caught him using Alexa to cheat on his math homework.
On Dec. 20, a young New Jersey boy was doing homework at the kitchen table. His mom was in the living room but overheard him asking Alexa to solve math problems. She recorded a few seconds of the interaction as Jariel asks, “Alexa, what’s five minus three?” Right as Alexa answers, his mom enters the room with a “boyyy!”
She uploaded the 11-second clip to Twitter, jokingly asking if she “should whoop him now or later.” It’s already been viewed more than 8.4 million times! Take a look below.
Lmfao should i whoop him now or later pic.twitter.com/mZEJsWWn4W
— Yerelyn (@spanishbarbie22) December 20, 2018
It didn’t take long at all for Jariel to figure out just how quickly he could get through his homework with Alexa’s help. The Amazon Echo had only been in the home for only one week.
“The funny thing is that math is actually his favorite subject,” his mom, 24-year-old Yerelyn Cueva, told the New York Post. “I was surprised because he knows this stuff. He was just being lazy. Taking a shortcut.”
And she’s right. Asking Alexa is even easier than googling the answers, especially for young children who may not have access to a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Cueva is now trying to figure out how to keep her son from using Alexa as his homework helper. “I’m probably going to have to turn it off so he doesn’t just keep on cheating,” she told the Post.
Keeping Alexa from doing your child’s homework
Although this kid showed some ingenuity, most parents probably don’t want their smart speakers doing their child’s homework for them. But you don’t have to unplug your Echo to keep Alexa from interacting with your children.
For starters, the easiest way to prevent it is by disabling the microphone by tapping the button on top of the device. But it’s also completely reversible if your child knows that bringing Alexa back is as simple as pushing the same button a second time.
Now there’s also FreeTime, which is parental control for Alexa and other Amazon devices and services. With the service, parents can set screen time limits, filter age-appropriate content, and stop access to smart home devices.
You can learn more about the service by clicking here, or you can just open the Alexa app on your smartphone to enable the service.
- On the app homescreen, tap on Devices at the bottom right.
- On the next screen, tap on All Devices.
- Once you see the list of Alexa-enabled devices, tap which one parental controls should be added to.
- Scroll down to general and look for the FreeTime option to enable.
Some parental controls are free, but to have even more control and give your child access to other kid-friendly content, you can sign up for FreeTime Unlimited. The service starts at $2.99 a month ($4.99 if you’re not a Prime member) for a single child. There are also one-year pre-paid plans available.
And a side note: While your kids are interacting with Alexa, should they use good manners? Kim discusses this in a recent Consumer Tech Update. Listen below.