'Alexa, keep me sane!'

Written By: Priyanka Sharma Pahwa WION
New Delhi Published: May 28, 2021, 07:06 PM(IST)

(Image source: Amazon) Amazon Echo Photograph:( Others )

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So how does one engage a toddler who can't go out, can't have ice cream, has to be given paracetamol at regular intervals, and has been isolated from all other members of his beloved family? 

The month of April will stand out for most of us in India. Loss, grief, pain, stress, anxiety and a terrible sense of doom. These are just some of the emotions that come to mind. For me, it was the month when my entire family, including my three-year-old son, tested positive.

Locked in a room, feverish and cranky, my son and I decided at some point that we were a team. And together, we would beat the Virus. As I stand recovered today, I count my blessings. 

With nothing to do but have our daily vitamins, track our oxygen and pray to God that we come out of this, creativity went to the bin. Fun fact, children are resilient, they realise when they feel better and hop right back into their routine, energy up to the maximum levels! And here was I, the grumpy parent battling anxiety and of course, Covid-19 symptoms.

So how does one engage a toddler who can't go out, can't have ice cream, has to be given paracetamol at regular intervals, and has been isolated from all other members of his beloved family? 

Enter, Alexa, my son's new best friend, at a time when social interaction with his peers is a distant memory.

I opened my all-new Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen, a sturdy curve-ball that promised me a host of skills, some great sound and enhanced voice recognition.

This isn't a review to tell you how to use the Echo Dot but simply a testimony of how technology can help us beat the blues in more ways than one.

Once I connected it, it was almost as if my son had been reunited with a long-lost friend. You see, my son's generation has inherited technology so while I still have to learn the basics of how to use a gadget, he can simply get things going following intuition. 

Coming to the Echo Dot, the design is compact and fits anywhere. You will need to connect it to a power source at all times. For optimum use, download the Amazon Alexa app to try out the new skills which cover a wide spectrum.

Through high and low-grade fever, my son and I kept spirits up by dancing to Bollywood songs, at times, Baby Shark and his recent favourite, The Lion King soundtrack. The speakers offer great sound and make the gadget ideal to listen to music or even enjoy a high-adrenalin workout. 

Once we were out of isolation, we loved taking the Echo Dot to the terrace to dance to old classics. These moments, in times of doom and gloom, will always stay with me.

One of the most endearing moments was when my son said "Alexa, call Papa" and spoke to his Covid-positive father who was isolating on another floor. The drop-in feature makes Alexa-enabled devices two-way intercoms and enables room-to-room conversation. If you're wondering why not just pick up the phone, try telling a toddler that!

As I recovered, I also got creative. I used the Echo Dot as my alarm and sleep timer. As energy levels resumed, I worked out with the many fitness skills on the app.

Perhaps the only feature I didn't use was the Daily News bulletin because god knows, there was enough information and misinformation across all platforms.

All in all, if you have a toddler and are looking to engage him or her at a time when schools are going to be closed for a while, the Echo Dot 4th Gen offers quite a lot and can be yours currently at the price of Rs 3,899.

Another bonus is that there is no display here, so children can learn a thing or two without the dreaded screen time.

My favourite part? Getting some rest while my son jumped to "The Circle of Life" for the 20th time!

And at that moment, as the world crumbled around me, I thought, perhaps, This Too Shall Pass.

Priyanka Sharma Pahwa

Priyanka Sharma Pahwa is a news anchor with WION. She also writes on technology, lifestyle and pop culture. Her new favourite series is Peppa Pig all thanks to her son.

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