New Version of Alexa Gives Kid-Friendly Answers to Tough Questions

A computer has never answered 'where do babies come from?' so tactfully.

by Raz Robinson
Flickr Stock Catalog

Amazon’s Alexa just got a lot smarter and is hopefully saving parents from a handful of extremely difficult conversations with their kids. A recent update to the virtual assistant tool comes with a new mode called FreeTime in which Alexa knows to answer certain questions — like say, ‘Where do babies come from?’ —differently. In instances like that, Alexa can now simply respond ‘ask a grown up.’

Amazon even worked with child psychologists on some of the new answers that Alexa can give. According to the company, Alexa is constantly using questions and requests to ensure that she’s “always getting smarter.”

“Alexa isn’t intended to be a replacement parent or caregiver,” the company said in a statement. “So we believe it’s important we treat these answers with empathy and point the child to a trusted adult when applicable.”

Still, the new update is good for more than not spilling the beans about Santa Claus. FreeTime can also sensor the explicit lyrics of a particular song or block it entirely. One step further, parents can also set times during which Alexa will tell kids “Sorry I can’t play right now, try again later,” should their kids attempt to use the tool when they should be sleeping or doing homework. The FreeTime update will even encourage kids to say please and thank you before and after asking for things.

The folks over at The News & Observer asked the updated Alexa a few more challenging questions and her new answers didn’t disappoint.

Question: Alexa, what happens when you die?

Regular Answer: “Sorry, I’m not sure.”

Kid 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.”

Question: Alexa, is Santa Claus Real?

Regular Answer: “Santa makes a lot of people ho-ho-hopeful for a happy holiday, and I definitely believe in that.”

Kid Answer: “Just check if the cookies you set out for him are gone Christmas morning.”

Question: Alexa, what is marijuana?

Regular Answer: “Marijuana is usually defined as a strong-smelling plant whose dried leaves can be smoked for a pleasant effect or pain reduction or, alternatively, the most commonly used illicit drug; considered a soft drug, it consists of the dried leaves of the hemp plant; smoked or chewed for euphoric effect.”

Kid Answer: “I am not able to answer that.”

FreeTime can be turned on using the Alexa app and is available on the Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot devices