February 8, 2023

Amazon hasn’t figured out how to let customers buy things using its digital assistant, Alexa, much to the company’s disappointment. But while Alexa isn’t doing well as an Amazon product, we wonder how it’s doing for the people who really matter (us).

If you’ve purchased a smart speaker or display powered by a voice-controlled digital assistant like Alexa, we want to hear from you. Is your family still using it? If yes, how to use it?

I’m an editor in the tech department of The New York Times with two boys, ages 6 and 8. In some families with young children like mine, voice assistants are very useful. My first graders ask Alexa about the weather before getting dressed in the morning. He and his brother use it to check their math, play problem solving games and control the music that plays in our house.

They’re still too small for a phone, so Alexa lets them go into the digital world — and without the nasty stuff of web skimmers.

At dinner, when my kids ask me something I can’t answer, I don’t take my phone to the table and googling. We ask Alexa. I help them refine how to ask questions to get the right results, which I imagine is somewhat similar to how previous generations of parents taught their kids how to use reference books.

I’m curious how other families experience voice assistants. Tell us the things that surprise you when you hear your kids ask Alexa or ask them to do it. If you’ve come up with any good life or parenting tips, we’d like to hear about them too.

We’re also curious if you’re using the assistant in the way Amazon wants you to, such as using it to shop online. Or if it led you to sign up for one of the company’s subscription services, such as Prime or Audible. Or you might think it’s a waste — and creepy.

We plan to publish some of our responses in a future article on ways households use (or not use) digital assistants. We will not publish any part of your submission without first contacting you. We may use your contact information to follow up with you.

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