Medical City Healthcare - January 18, 2017

This is What Happens When Kids Have Access to Artificial Intelligence.

Are you ready for voice-activated artificial intelligence to interact with your children? If you have Siri on your Apple device, Google's unnamed assistant on your Android or Amazon's Alexa on the Echo, Dot or Tap, it's already happening.

So what do you do when your 6-year-old innocently uses this AI technology to make a nearly $200 purchase with your credit card and the items arrive on your doorstep later that day? If you're the Nietzel family of Dallas, you turn it into a teaching moment for your kids and a blessing to sick children and their families at Medical City Children's Hospital.

When the Nitetzel's received Amazon's best-selling product of 2016 as a Christmas gift, Megan Nietzel wasn't really sure how the family would use it. Her husband had the voice-activated Echo Dot up and running in the kitchen in no time and then left it to the kids to enjoy.

The Amazon Echo Dot speaker is the original Echo's next-gen little brother and like Echo, it incorporates Amazon's digital assistant, Alexa. Six-year-old Brooke found out very quickly what Alexa can do.

"She can do knock-knock jokes, she can sing and she can order stuff," Brooke said.

Almost as soon as Megan received a (surprise!) email confirming Brooke's order, a supersized dollhouse and a 4-pound tin of butter cookies were delivered.

"I thought, that's interesting," Megan said, "because I hadn't made an order!"

After quickly setting parental controls on the Echo Dot, the family discussed the rogue purchase and decided to donate the dollhouse to Medical City Children's Hospital.

"Brooke doesn't need another dollhouse, so we just thought it would be great for other children to benefit from it," said Megan. "And since we've brought our children to the Medical City Children's Hospital emergency room for minor things and they've been so wonderful to us, we just thought this is where the dollhouse needed to be. Brooke agreed."

Manage voice purchasing settings on Amazon Echo, Dot and Tap.

To keep your kids from going on an Amazon shopping spree, here's how to manage your voice purchasing settings.

NOTE: After registering your Alexa device, voice purchasing is on by default.

  1. Open the Alexa app.
  2. Open the left navigation panel and select Settings/Voice Purchasing.
  3. Select your setting choice to update it.
    1. Purchase by voice: use the switch to turn off or on voice purchasing.
    2. (Optional) Require confirmation code: If you want to leave voice purchasing on but avoid unauthorized purchases, enter a 4-digit code and select Save Changes. Alexa will ask you for the code; just be sure your kids don't hear it! And be sure not to choose a code you use for other accounts and services.

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