The preschool content space in recent years has had several changes such as increased titles in streaming platforms, modifications in parental control, and restriction of targeted ads. An overview of these changes, including the use of smart speakers/voice assistants, is provided below.
How the Preschool Content Space Has Changed in the Past Years
- According to a recent study, the types of digital content for preschoolers is growing and now includes computer-delivered and online activities, console video games, handheld media for mobile devices, electronic toys and learning systems, robots that move and talk, and physically active games for dance pads, among others.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to changes in this space as it “has forced teachers and parents to come up with reasonable, safe, and educational alternatives to brick-and-mortar schools.” Digital content for children, including preschoolers, is changing from being a supportive tool to becoming a primary teaching method.
- Podcasts for preschool children have grown in popularity during the pandemic. According to Psychology in Action, “kids podcasts have been growing in popularity as parents are looking to find alternatives to screen time.” As per a survey conducted by Kids Listen, 22% of families listen to podcasts with their preschool children.
- Streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, are increasing its preschool content. In 2020, Netflix added seven new titles for this audience, which include DreamWorks Dragons Rescue Riders, Hello Ninja, and What-To-Doodles. Amazon Prime Video added free titles for preschoolers in the same year.
- Preschool content demand is continuously increasing. As a result, streaming platforms like YouTube are restricting targeted ads and turning off comments on kid-centric videos. These recent actions have made it possible for YouTube channels like Canticos to triple their audience in only one month.
How the Use of Virtual Assistants / Smart Speakers by Preschoolers Has Changed in the Past Years
- Recently, smart speakers have become more kid-friendly. In December 2020, Amazon launched a new Echo Dot Kids’ Edition, which features “a custom experience geared toward younger users, along with extensive parental controls.”
- Back in 2018, voice-activated assistants had difficulty understanding younger children’s commands, as this generation’s pronunciation and vocabulary are not fully developed. With the release of the first Echo Dot Kids’ Edition in that same year, Alexa started delivering more detailed responses with a simpler vocabulary while featuring the recognition to understand mispronunciations.
- According to a 2019 survey by Common Sense, over 40% of parents with preschool children say their families use a smart speaker and nearly 60% say their young children “interact with a voice-activated assistant like Siri or Alexa.” Of these kids, 50% interact with assistants at least once a day to play music, get information, talk or fool around, or hear jokes.
- In 2018, Amazon added a feature for preschoolers called Magic Word that encourages children to speak politely with Alexa devices by using words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ This feature was implemented after many parents complained about how the use of smart speakers was causing their children to act rudely or bossy towards people.