As a mother and former teacher, Catherine Teitelbaum understands what matters most to parents. “If you talk to any parent, there is nothing more important in their world than the health and wellness of their children,” said Teitelbaum, head of Family Trust at Amazon. “That’s true in the real world and in digital spaces.”
Amazon’s Family Trust team ensures that the content children explore on Amazon Kids Devices and Amazon Kids+ is engaging, age-appropriate, and safe. As the program celebrates its 10th anniversary, the team continues to find new ways to empower parents and create safe and fun experiences for kids.
Teitelbaum’s team builds parental guardrails and choice into Amazon’s digital and hardware products. They focus on kid-friendly services like Amazon Kids on Alexa, the subscription service Amazon Kids+, and Parent Dashboard, which is Amazon’s centralized hub for caregivers to utilize parental controls.
“Parenting and online safety is personal. Our goal is to be transparent with parents about their choices, help them know what they're choosing, and protect their kids online while giving them freedom to explore, discover, and play using family-friendly Amazon devices and services,” Teitelbaum said. “We're experts in privacy and safety for kids.”
As technology continues to evolve, she said, Family Trust will be right there along with it.
Teitelbaum, who joined Amazon in 2018, became intrigued with how technology could augment education when she was an elementary school teacher in Silicon Valley. Long before Zoom was a thing, she arranged for her second-grade class to attend a live text chat with Eric Carle, author of the world-famous The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The kids were able to pepper the writer with questions—What’s your favorite pen? Where do you get your ideas?—and he’d answer in real time.
“This was a real connection, and it was inspirational,” Teitelbaum said. “I became increasingly convinced of the value of digital technologies—their ability to break down the school walls.”
Amazon Kids has championed achieving the same goals in a safe and engaging way ever since it launched in 2012.
Providing access to a variety of experiences
Amazon Kids+ is a content platform that encourages kids to learn new things and dive deeper into topics that interest them. It features a variety of formats, including Alexa skills, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, and games. All are built to spark curiosity and joy for kids and allow them to drive their own learning experience. Families can enjoy the content on their mobile devices, Fire Kids tablets, Kindle Kids, and Echo smart speakers.
“One of the things I like most about our giant catalog of curated content is the diversity of the content and experiences,” Teitelbaum said.
Teitelbaum said kids love learning with Alexa by asking questions or using Alexa skills like Amazon Math or Amazon Science. This creates a fun, interactive experience for kids to explore their latest passion, from space facts to animals to music.
“In education, there’s a pedagogy called ‘scaffolding,’ which is the process by which you build up children's understanding, giving them little small bits of information or experiences,” she said.
Ensuring those experiences are filled with variety keeps kids more interested and engaged. And because Amazon Kids+ content is curated from reputable top-tier sources—like Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Disney, and National Geographic—parents can be assured the content is safe, and there's always something new for their kids to enjoy.
Staying on top of what their children engage with online can be dizzying for parents. That’s why Amazon’s Family Trust team has partnered with academic and medical institutions like the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital to build structures and measure the impacts of digital technologies on children.
It’s also why Amazon built Parent Dashboard, a free hub that makes it easy for parents to configure age-appropriate settings, set screen time limits, and find content for their kids across Amazon devices and their Amazon Kids+ subscription.
"Amazon's Parent Dashboard is an important part of the process of teaching children to make good media choices,” said Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about online safety, privacy, security, and digital wellness. “It empowers parents to tailor the type of content and level of supervision for their individual children and to modify their settings as children mature and learn to make good decisions on their own."
Ultimately, that’s the goal of Amazon’s Family Trust team: to create safe spaces for children so that they are free to let their imaginations flourish.
Learn more about creating family-friendly digital experiences with Amazon.