Did You Know Voice Assistants Can Negatively Impact a Child’s Social Development?


A recent study discovered that voice assistants like Alexa and Siri can impede a child’s social and emotional growth. Almost every cell phone has a voice assistant inbuilt. Scientists now contend that these voice assistants can impair abilities like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking in kids.

In an interaction with The Guardian, Anmol Arora, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, said that using technology is a poor way to learn social interaction since it prevents non-verbal communication. “While a youngster would typically receive constructive criticism if they misbehaved in normal human interactions, this is outside the scope of a smart device,” said Anmol.

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He also highlighted that this is crucial at a time when COVID-19 restrictions may have already hampered 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 that technology can behave as “friends,” improving reading and communication skills.

The human-sounding voices, which are powered by cutting-edge AI, have raised questions about potential long-term consequences on children’s developing brains. According to Anmol Arora, there are three main areas of concern – improper responses, obstructing social growth, and impeding learning.

As per the findings, privacy concerns have also come up about recording private talks. Since there is no requirement for a “please” or “thank you,” the devices also fail to teach children how to behave respectfully. Voice assistants are intended to look up requested information and offer a clear, precise response. Unfortunately, this can make it more difficult for kids to learn and absorb information the conventional ways.

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

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Originally published at www.news18.com

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