Like the other experts CNBC talked to, Rich feels hopeful about the future of smart assistant technologies and how children will interact with them. His 11-year-old son recently bought one of Google’s Home devices with his own money and Rich likes how the device can assist with random questions without always being in his son’s clutches, like a smartphone. Still, he acknowledges that, unlike with smartphones, there haven’t been any real studies yet to see what impacts these smart speakers could have on children.

At their most ambitious, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home devices are meant to transform the way you manage your life and control your home, using artificial intelligence to put an ever-increasing range of capabilities at your command. But at their most basic, they simply allow you to spend less time tapping away on a screen. And as Apple’s current scrutiny underscores, that can be particularly important when it comes to kids.

Both Google and Amazon already have a wide range of children’s content available, including trivia games, stories, and interactive question sessions with characters from the likes of Sesame Street or Disney. They also both have ways to set up profiles for young children with parental controls to easily monitor usage and what a kid has access to. And both companies have plans to keep expanding their offerings in the coming year.

He highlights how the communal and public nature of these devices can allow parents to feel better about letting kids get comfortable with them — it’s hard to have secrets when everything you ask gets logged in a mutually accessible search history or can be heard out loud when you ask it. Plus, kids can be entertained or informed without the dopamine hit of notifications that come when you fire up a phone.

Lindholm has heard fears that kids could end up thinking of the assistants as real people and looking to them for things that they’d otherwise talk about with a parent. An amusing example of this can be seen in a short video by Brett Gaylor that documents his five-year-old’s son’s obsession with Google’s voice commands.

Plus, YouTube’s struggles last year to keep disturbing content out of its children’s feeds could make some parents wary of placing trust in kid settings.

While investors pressure Apple to address youth phone addiction, experts are more optimistic about the voice-enabled smart speakers that Google and Amazon want to plunk into your living room.

Solace Shen, a researcher at Cornell who has studied children’s interactions with intelligent technology, says she sees a big opportunity for educational and entertainment content on these devices that doesn’t suck kids in in the same way that a smartphone would.

Ultimately, though, as with any other technology, the onus is on the parent to instruct their child on etiquette, set limits and moderate usage.

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