Alexa, Play "My Neck, My Back"

Amazon says it is working on a fix for the explicit music kids can hear on its Echo and Dot devices.

Dear Amazon, the parents of the world have an issue, and *Dee Snider voice* we're not gonna take it.

Ok @amazonmusic, add an explicit lyrics filter for Alexa. My echo just started playing a song with F-bombs right in front of my kids. 😳

Casey Picker had a surprise when the song "iSpy" by Kyle (feat. Lil' Yachty) came on his Echo. It's a catchy kid-friendly tune, but it does feature some not exactly kid-friendly words. Lyrics like "I won't fuck a bitch without a rubber" might help teach your teens about the importance of safe sex, but they're probably not ideal for younger ones.

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Amazon Music doesn't offer yet explicit language filters. Which means that the company's Echo and Dot smart speakers — which use Amazon Music as a default streaming service — don't yet offer profanity-free versions of the music that, say, a plucky 7-year-old might ask it to play. Amazon told BuzzFeed News the company is “actively working on a solution to this issue," but it didn't say what that solution might be or when it's expected to arrive.

Amazon Alexa does have some built-in filters for cusswords. For example, if it's reading a message someone texted you through the Alexa platform, it will bleep out the word "fuck." I've tested this, of course.

Fretting about explicit lyrics in songs is very 1985 Tipper Gore, I know. Sure, your kid's head won't explode should she hear a few cusswords. But it's reasonable for parents to want to avoid f-bomb exposure, if for no reason other than kids love to repeat naughty words just to annoy adults.

I'm no prude (see, I'll prove it: butts, fart, crap, fuck, turd, shit), but even I sometimes find myself shocked by the explicit lyrics in pop songs. Ever have that experience where you hear the "real" version of a song you only ever heard on the radio, and you're shocked, SHOCKED! at all the dirty words? Like that Enrique Iglesias hit song that goes "Tonight I'm loving you..." but then you discover he's planning on doing something way more than "loving" you?? Yeah, that.

Here's the current state of explicit lyric filtering on streaming services:

No Explicit Lyric Filters:

  • Tidal

  • Spotify

  • Amazon Music

Yes Explicit Lyric Filters:

  • Apple Music

  • Pandora

  • Google Music

Echo and Dot devices are popular with kids for obvious reasons: They're basically toys that talk to you. There are tons of kid-friendly apps for them that tell jokes or serve up fun facts about animals. The devices can help spell words, or do math problems. In fact, in a lot of ways, the Echo and the Dot seem more appropriate for kids than adults.

There's been a smattering of handwringing that Echos are turning kids into assholes who never have to tell Alexa, "please," or are enablers of unforeseen consumer binges. Consider the viral story of a girl who ordered an expensive dollhouse and four pounds of cookies; then, in a Murphy's Law self-suck, the TV news coverage of that story triggered viewers' Echos to place orders for the same items.

But for the most part, the Echo and Dot are devices that kids love. Amazon seems to know it, and has actively marketed them to parents in the form of both back-to-school sales and kid-specific skills. So the fact that the Echo doesn't yet have a kid-friendly music offering is surprising — and frustrating for more than a few parents. Indeed, Amazon customer forums show threads of parents frustrated and confused as to why they can't stop their kids from hearing naughty music.

While Amazon is working on a solution to the issue, it's unclear when it might arrive. So in the meantime here's a suggested workaround: Only listen to Swedish death metal, so your kids can't understand it (unless you speak Swedish, in which case, you're fucked).

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