Mom Kristin Livdahl said she uses the virtual assistant technology to motivate her children to try out physical challenges, like balancing a broomstick on their hands.
Her 10-year-old daughter recently asked the device for a challenge prompt, and Livdahl was alarmed by its response.
“Here’s something I found on the web … The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” Alexa responded, according to the device’s activity log.
“I was actually right there in the room with her, and I was so freaked out. I’m like, ‘No, Alexa! No, stop!” Livdahl told ABC News.
Alexa’s instructions referred to the so-called “outlet challenge,” a dangerous trend popularized on TikTok.
Amazon told ABC News “Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”
TikTok has removed any posts with the hashtag #OutletChallenge, but some videos are still visible on the platform.
Experts say parents should monitor their children’s interactions with voice-activated technology.
What that highlights is that no tech is perfect, and there are loopholes,” said Titania Jordan chief parent officer of Bark Technologies, an online safety company. “Research what parental controls exist for that device … figure out how to implement them. Then plug it in, then set it up, then let them play knowing that you have some peace of mind.”
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