Amazon debuts the first Alexa skills for kids

Amazon has released its first Alexa skills for kids.

Amazon is rolling out Alexa skills for kids in the US, opening itself up to an entirely new audience of tech-savvy customers who were likely using voice skills in some capacity anyway.

In a blog post, Amazon said available skills for kids include Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Challenge, Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street and its own Storytime skill. And, naturally, Amazon is inviting additional developers to publish “fun and educational” skills for kids under the age of 13. What’s more, based on the number of developers who have expressed interest, Amazon said it expects the number of these skills to grow quickly.

This doesn't come without regulatory challenges, but Amazon said customers seeking to enable a child skill for the first time will have to give permission in the Alexa app by verifying their identities with one-time SMS codes sent to the mobile phone numbers in their Amazon accounts or by entering the security codes of the credit cards in their Amazon accounts. Alexa will then save the consent and access to skills for kids and will not require additional verification.

In a case study, Stefanie Schwartz, senior vice president of digital and business development at Nickelodeon, said the SpongeBob Challenge gives Nickelodeon a new way to interact with its audience.

“This is just the beginning of voice experiences for Nickelodeon,” added Darren Brelesky, senior vice president of product and technology. “Voice opens up tremendous access to Nick shows, characters and content by lowering that discovery friction found in many screen-based experiences.”

For her part, Betsy Loredo, executive editor and digital content director at Sesame Workshop, said her team wanted to build a skill based on the friendly, welcoming and safe confines of Sesame Street, which is a place where kids can learn, play and meet new friends.

Further, she said the Sesame Street skill’s accessibility supports the Workshop’s mission to use technology to deliver content that helps kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

“Voice is becoming ubiquitous. For kids to thrive in a culture that values technology, we have to present them with safe, age-appropriate experiences on new platforms as they learn. And we’re excited to do just that with the Sesame Street skill for Alexa,” Loredo added.

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Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is a senior reporter for The Drum, covering digital and search marketing. Based in New York, she writes about how brands use technology to connect with consumers, particularly as innovations like voice search, digital assistants and the Internet of Things change consumers’ lives forever – not to mention the data these platforms increasingly collect and the security and privacy issues therein. She is a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism. Her bucket list includes riding in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

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