Alexa, are friends with our children?


The tech giants are racing to get digital assistants in our homes – Amazon Echo Dot currently has a 40% discount on Amazon the First Day – but the debate rages on the fact that they are suitable for children.

There have certainly been teething problems.

Toy giant Mattel has abandoned his “baby-sitting, Aristotle, last year, due to privacy issues.

And music streaming service Spotify is currently testing a way to filter songs with explicit lyrics following complaints from parents that family-friendly versions of songs not to play by default, when prompted, the smart speakers.

Amazon Echo in the meantime added a feature to encourage children to be more polite than following the concerns that the abrupt way in which people talk about, was to teach children to be rude.

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Children must have their own smart speaker?

If you accept that the voice-tech is where our gadgets are direct, then there is an argument that children need to have familiarity with it, as it evolves.


“It is not a good thing if my children are learning to interact with these types of devices now to help prepare them for any machines they’ll talk like adults?” asks tech journalist Stuart Dredge – while also admitting that he wants his children to do so while closely supervised by him, and that means not having one in the bedroom.


However, when Amazon has released a special version of Amazon Echo aimed specifically at children in the US, the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood has issued a statement raising concerns about the device, accompanied by a letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by two American politicians.

“Amazon wants children to be dependent on its data collection of the device from the moment you wake up until they go to bed in the evening,” said campaign director Josh Golin.

“THE devices raise a number of privacy issues and interfere with the face-to-face and self-driven game that children need to thrive.”

Amazon has responded that the technology in general “is not designed to replace parenting or social connection”.Do children think Alexa is a real person?

The MIT study by 2017 found that younger children were more likely to talk about digital assistants as if they were people, asking them things like what their favorite color is and how old they are.

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However, they also sought to understand how they worked.

“You have a phone inside of you?” and “what are you?” were substantial questions.

The study concluded that the children believed they could teach the devices as well as learn from them – but it is worth noting that the research was never completed because of the “lack of attention” (anyone with small children in their lives, sympathize) and it is based on a small group of 26 participants.

It is interesting to note that, one of the five principles of robotics, written by a number of scholars, states that: “…anyone who owns or interacts with a robot should be able to find out what it really is and perhaps what it was really manufactured to do.”

Which means that no one should believe that an object is artificial human, including children.Do smart speakers make children rude?

If you spoke to someone, the way you talk smart speaker – Turn on the TV! Do it again! – you may not get a very polite response.

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In 2016, a venture capitalist Hunter Walk wrote a Medium post about the Amazon Echo, which he described as magical, but added that it was negatively affecting the behavior of the child.

The reason he gave was the lack of good manners need to get a response.

“Cognitively I’m not sure that a child receives because you can boss Alexa around, but not a person,” he wrote.

In January of 2018, the research company ChildWise published a report warning that children who have grown used to speaking in that way of a virtual character may become aggressive in subsequent dealings with human beings.

Amazon has since introduced a feature called Magic Word, which praises children for being kind.Are smart speakers make children more impatient?

A recent study conducted at the University of Washington found that, overall, the very small sample of children involved (there were only 14) have been very patient with a wide range of digital assistant to deliberately not understand.

About 75% of the time they simply continued to try to be understood – and, the researchers noted that they used familiar tactics.

“Our results show that a large part of what is known about children’s linguistic behaviors from person to person, the communication applies to their interactions with these technologies,” they concluded.