The Amazon Alexa “penny challenge” that put a 10-year-old in danger

The Amazon Alexa “penny challenge” that put a 10-year-old in danger

How to keep your family safe after an Alexa Echo told a child to touch a penny to an exposed plug socket

by CyberGuy Staff

Amazon Alexa most recently made headlines for the response an Alexa Echo gave to a 10-year-old when they asked for “a challenge.”

Instead of a fun game, Alexa responded: “Here’s something I found on the web. According to The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”

alexa penny challenge tweet

This, of course, could have led to a serious injury if the child had followed through and was electrocuted.

A spokesperson for Amazon responded to the disturbing incident saying, “As soon as we became aware of this error, we quickly fixed it, and will continue to advance our systems to help prevent similar responses in the future.”

Hopefully this was a big wake-up call for Amazon, who has had other titanic-sized trouble at that disrupts millions of Americans lives.


What is the “penny challenge”?

The “penny challenge” first went viral on TikTok last year.

Firefighters warned school administrators to watch out for the dangerous trend that can cause serious injury.

The “trend” is to unplug an iPhone phone charger partially, and then slide a penny down the wall so it will fall on the exposed prongs. While the goal is to see a few sparks, a fire marshal said this could cause electrical system damage, and sometimes fire.

If one were to hold the penny, like the 10-year-old might have if they listened to the challenge, electrocution is possible.


How to make sure your Amazon device is safe for kids

For those tech-savvy kids who like to talk to or request songs from Alexa, make sure to check your Amazon settings. You can download the Amazon Alexa app on both iOS and Android devices.


Use the Explicit Filter for music

You can block songs with explicit words on your device by visiting the Amazon Alexa app on your smart phone.

  1. Open Amazon Alexa app
  2. Tap More to open the full menu
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Click Music & Podcasts and tap Explicit Language Filter
  5. Toggle the filter to enable it and most music services will block explicit songs

You can also toggle to enable Voice Deactivation which allows you turn this filter off with you voice by saying, “Alexa, turn off the explicit filter.”


Turn off Drop in

The feature allows you to turn your Alexa devices into an intercom, but the setting can also allow you to “drop in” on your friends and family’s devices in other locations.

Alexa communication drop in

While you have to approve contacts to allow them to drop in on you and vice versa, the feature should be disabled for the most safety.

  1. Open Amazon Alexa app
  2. Tap Communicate
  3. Tap Drop in
  4. Click My Communication Settings
  5. Make sure Drop in is disabled


Review Alexa Privacy settings

You can review your voice history and check on anything anyone in your home might have asked your Alexa.

You’re able to filter by date or device, and delete all of your voice recordings.

  1. Open Amazon Alexa app
  2. Tap More to open the full menu
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap Alexa Privacy
  5. Click Review Voice History
  6. Choose how you want to filter your voice recordings, or tap Delete all recordings
  7. You can tap any voice recording to read the transcript or delete that individual recording.




Did you know about these Amazon Alexa settings? Comment below.

Photo Credit: Burnt outlet – photo credit by Massachusetts Fire Marshal

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