Zibby Owens, host of a New York – based podcast has recently spoken on her show about a day when she received a dozen text messages from Amazon to confirm that a bunch of “Paw Patrol” toys are on their way towards her house. “It was one after another,” she added.
Owens left her son (aged 4 at the time) to use her iPad while she was getting ready for work in the morning. The tablet had the Amazon.com shopping app installed on it, and her little boy intentionally touched the microphone icon next to the search bar and said “Paw Patrol”. Alexa quickly showed results related to the famous children’s show. At this point the little boy ended up ordering over a dozen items and actually finalizing the order, partly because of the simplicity of ordering from Amazon. People can place orders from almost anywhere nowadays thanks to the impressive number of more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices worldwide.
Delivery of the toys
Ms. Owens figured that something was wrong when a couple of boxes started arriving at her door, but it was already too late to review the order that was placed without her consent.
“Boxes and boxes arrived. He was jumping up and down with excitement that he had ordered all this stuff,” she added.
However, while she wasn’t that bothered by the whole situation, she let her son keep only a board game and saved some of the other items as future gifts for other children, shipping back the rest of the toys, which, frankly, provoked a cascade of tears.
However, this is not an isolated incident: Other resourceful kids have worked their way around the will of their parents… and the fact that they are unable to read by using only their voice, without a designated app this time.
Josue Sierra arrived home from work on a certain day and discovered that a package from Amazon containing Tesla-branded running pants was waiting for him. When he questioned his wife about the suspicious package he realized that she was just as clueless as him but then their son, aged 5 walked in and firmly stated: “That’s not what I ordered. I wanted a Tesla.”
It turned out that his son had placed the order by utilizing Alexa from the family’s Echo device.
Mr. Sierra found it all funny and sent the pants back but then took adequate safety measures:
“I immediately went into the app on my phone and activated the voice PIN.”
Parents should be aware that they can set a PIN on their Alexa devices to prevent their children from making such random purchases. There is also an option to turn off voice purchasing from Amazon. Alternatively, enabling FreeTime (including Amazon’s parental controls) on an Echo device, or an Echo Dot Kids Edition is used, all voice purchasing is disabled by default.
Remember, the good old solution of passcode-protecting tablets or completely disable shopping might work wonders in many ways.
There you have it! Santa can be replaced by technology! It’s a bit weird how children who can’t even read or write can easily borrow a smart device from their parents and carelessly buy themselves Christmas presents (or any sort of presents, for that matter) but this is the direction where technology and civilization are heading towards. Some argue that it’s a very good thing to have children adapt at such young ages while others firmly believe that it’s all too far from normal. Unfortunately, only time can solve this debate.