Can Alexa Be Dangerous For Kids?

Alexa kids

Children are now surrounded by technological devices and often learn to use them long before their parents, given their insatiable desire to discover everything. But what to do if the child learns to use the Amazon Echo and therefore the Alexa voice assistant? Can what is asked of the assistant be dangerous?

In this in-depth study we will show you what are the dangers that minors run from using Alexa without adult supervisiongiven that Alexa uses information from the Internet to provide some answers.

For the more apprehensive parents we will also show you how to prevent Alexa from being used by childrenso as to reduce to zero the risk that they can get hurt by following incorrect advice provided by artificial intelligence.

READ ALSO -> How to protect children and families from the dangers of the Internet

The media case

On December 26, 2021 a Twitter user reported a very serious problem with Alexa: the voice assistant, at a specific request made by a child (who wanted to discover a new challenge to do), advised to remove the socket halfway and touch the exposed electrical contacts.

Problems Alexa

Fortunately, the child in question had enough salt to not follow the challenge proposed by Alexa otherwise the electrocution was assured, considering that American sockets tend to be less secure than European ones (which protect part of the contacts with insulation to avoid such problems).

Electrical outlets

The parent of the child reported the matter to Amazon and posted the photo of the challenge on Twitter to warn all parents about the how dangerous Alexa is in certain situations.

It must be said that the problem is not of Alexa itself, but how it retrieves information from the Internet: it cannot distinguish what is right and what is wrong, thus leading to also proposing grotesque or dangerous solutions only because they are read from the Internet. Fortunately, Amazon has remedied this very serious problem by blocking any type of search on challenges or other keywords that are dangerous for children.

How to prevent Alexa from being used by children

If this story has scared you enough we can anyway program our Amazon Echo to recognize our voiceso as to prevent a child from starting a wrong voice command or getting dangerous responses like those seen in the story.

To proceed, open the Amazon Alexa app on our device (we remind you that it is available for Android and iPhone), if necessary, log in with the Amazon account in use on the Echo, press the bottom right on the menu Otherwe select the menu Settingswe press on the menu Your profile and your familypress on our profile and finally press the button Configure Voice ID.

ID Alexa

In the screen that opens, press on I agree and we follow the procedure indicated to record our voice and thus allow Alexa to recognize our voice in a distinct way from the others. Unfortunately as a filter it is not always effective and some functions are available without the aid of the Voice ID.

The safe alternative to Alexa: Google Assistant

Alexa’s rival, Google Assistant, offers a much more effective voice filtering system, to the point that if we register our Voice ID it is unlikely that the child will be able to use the assistant without our help.

To record our voice and associate it with a Google Nest Mini, open the Google Home app on our portable device (the app in question is available for Android and iPhone), press the profile icon at the top right, press on Assistant settingswe select the menu Hey Google e Voice Matchwe press on the card Other devices and finally press on Add Voice Match to devices.

Voice Match

Now all we have to do is follow the steps proposed to choose which Google Nest Mini to activate voice recognition and which voice to record. Once setup is complete, the Nest Mini will only respond to our voicethus preventing a child from making strange or dangerous requests.

Conclusions

Analyzing the problem of the child and the lack of electrocution, we can say that Alexa behaved very precisely, perhaps too much! We can’t talk about a software problem seeing that he followed the child’s request to the letter e Alexa found the first useful result on the internet: pity that the proposed result was very dangerous!

To avoid this type of problem, we avoid leaving the children alone with Alexa or with any other device equipped with a virtual assistant, always supervising the use that children make of technological innovations. And if we are really anxious, we place a Google Nest Mini in place of the Amazon Echo and configure the Voice Matchso as to completely prevent the use of voice commands by minors.

Those who have decided to focus on Google Assistant can continue reading our articles on how to create new voice commands and how improve Google Assistant voice recognition if it does not understand commands.

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