Did you know that voice assistants can have a negative impact on a child’s social development?

A recent study found that voice assistants like Alexa and Siri can hinder a child’s social and emotional growth. Almost all cell phones have a built-in voice assistant. Scientists now claim that these voice assistants can impair abilities such as empathy, compassion and critical thinking in children.

In an interaction with The Guardian, Anmol Arora from the University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine said that using technology is a poor way to learn social interaction because it prevents unrelated communication. verbal. “While a young person would generally receive constructive criticism if they misbehave in normal human interactions, this is outside the scope of a smart device,” Anmol said.

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He also pointed out that this is crucial at a time when COVID-19 restrictions may have already hindered children’s social development, and they may have been spending more time alone with smart devices at home. The co-author of the study, which was published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, also said the technology can act like “friends”, improving reading and communication skills.

The human-sounding voices, powered by cutting-edge AI, have raised questions about the potential long-term consequences for children’s brain development. According to Anmol Arora, there are three main areas of concern: inappropriate responses, obstruction of social growth and hindrance of learning.

According to the findings, privacy concerns were also raised regarding the recording of private conversations. Since there are no “please” or “thank you” requirements, the devices also fail to teach children how to behave respectfully. Voice assistants are intended to look up the requested information and offer a clear and precise answer. Unfortunately, this can make it harder for children to learn and absorb information in conventional ways.

When a child asks a question, an adult can provide context, share knowledge, and elicit the child’s logic, which voice assistants cannot do. Finding information requires critical thinking and logical reasoning, which is a skill that can be learned through finding information.

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Joel C. Hicks