Alexa may mean "helper" and "defender of men," but for some owners of Amazon Echo, with the voice assistant Alexa, she is anything but.
The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that can essentially control your house, stream music, read you audiobooks, tell you the weather and pretty much anything else you need to know. Alexa is the name given to the Echo’s voice assistant. It’s also the “wake word,” which causes it to start paying attention to commands. While Alexa is similar to Siri, it’s been stirring up quite a bit of confusion and complications for parents who have children named Alexa, Alexis or Alex.
Earlier this month, Brooke Neitzel, a 6-year-old from Dallas, appeared on "Good Morning America" after she casually asked the Echo to “play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” Days later, a Kidcraft Dollhouse was delivered to their home, unbeknownst to Brooke’s parents. It was a good reminder for the Neitzels to activate parental controls and disable voice purchasing. According to ABC News, the family turned this incident into a learning experience and they donated the dollhouse to a local children’s hospital.
Some Long Island parents are also grappling with “Alexa” issues.
“My mother-in-law has one, and when my kids go there, it goes off constantly because they use my daughter Alexa’s name,” said Angela Gouvoussis of Bethpage. “One night, my son was Facetiming my niece, who has an Echo. It picked up me telling my daughter, ‘Alexa clean your room or you’re not going out tonight,’ and started looking up cleaning services. We all laughed.”
Jennifer Mannino of Massapequa Park has a daughter named Lexi, and whenever they said her name, Alexa goes off. “It would often say, ‘I don’t know what you are asking.’ It hasn’t happened in a while since we unplugged it from our living room,” she said.
Pamela Boccia of Levittown doesn't own one yet, but she finds it quite amusing when they are at her brother-in-laws, who has an Echo. "One time we were there and I said to my daughter, 'Alexa, can you go downstairs with the kids to help clean up' it answered something along the lines of 'I can try but I don't have hands," she said. "We'll be changing the response name as soon as we get ours."
"We just hooked up our Echo and have a 13-year-old named Alexa," said Jeanette Buffolino of Plainview. "Needless to say it's driving her nuts when I talk to the Echo she thinks I'm talking to her. When I yell 'Alexa stop' my daughter yells back from her room 'what, I'm not doing anything.'"
According to the Wall Street Journal, when Joanne Sussman of Levittown asked Alexa to “stop” as she was streaming music, her 24-year-old daughter, Alexa, froze on the stairs. Alexa Sussman told WSJ, “I always liked my name, until Amazon gave it to a robot."
Girls named Alexa may continue to bear the brunt of the new device as many parents continue to use this name. This year, the name Alexa ranks No. 75 on BabyCenter's most-popular baby name list, up 11 spots over last year.