(Natural News) While earlier generations didn’t grow up with smart assistants that made everyday life easier, kids today can simply command Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri to answer various questions. But this convenience comes at a cost, and these smart assistants “are causing young people today to forget their manners when talking to other people.”
Childwise, a “leading specialist in research with children and young people,” reports that kids are starting to forget their manners since they are getting used to voice-controlled smart assistants that do not “react” when asked “rude questions.”
Childwise suggests that companies can add a setting to devices which require users to phrase questions politely before they receive a response. The report added that since children may not always recognize the distinction between a “digital person and a real human being,” they might soon have trouble addressing adults in a polite manner. Kids using gadgets programmed with smart assistants can simply issue orders, and Siri or Alexa will comply, no questions asked.
Simon Leggett, research director at Childwise, released a written statement which read, “Our research shows that children age nine to 16 are really taking to voice recognition gadgets such as Siri and Alexa this year, with the younger children using them the most…We are on the tipping point with this technology and it is about to become mainstream for children.”
Legget warns that this can influence how children “learn to communicate,” and that it might give them the impression that it’s all right to say and do what they want to digital assistants. It could even make them believe that being rude or even aggressive will not have real-world consequences. He voiced his worries about children possibly being rude to adults like “shop assistants or teachers.” (Related: Amazon Echo is the ultimate spy device that records everything you say.)
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Based on data from the report, younger children who grew up with this technology have gotten accustomed to using smart assistants with daily tasks, like learning how to spell. When they turn 15 or 16 years old, less than half of children who own smart assistants continue to use them.
At least one in seven kids ask smart assistants for help with their homework. The technology is often used to search for information, and about one in nine use them for music. About 42 percent of children nine to 16 years old use voice recognition gadgets at home, with 32 percent using Siri, 20 percent accessing Microsoft’s Cortana, and seven percent using Google Assistant.
Dr. Janet Read, professor in child computer interaction at the University of Central Lancashire, advises parents to interact with smart assistants politely to “reinforce the manners that are acceptable as a family.” Dr. Read adds that if children see parents using good manners when interacting with a smart assistant, they will learn the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.”
She concluded that companies should consider altering voice assistant technology so they’ll “interact differently with each member of the family, as well as requiring a please or thank you to respond.”
When should you give kids access to gadgets?
While it may be a little difficult to completely prevent children from accessing technology, you can follow the tips below to ensure that your kids learn to use gadgets wisely:
- Let them use computers, but only after they reach preschool — Don’t take the easy (and lazy) way out by distracting your kids with an iPad. Experts advise parents to wait because “[c]hildren under two years of age learn best from real-world experiences and interactions.” The earlier you get them started on technology, the more you could be hindering their “development process.”
- Pair devices with parental guidance — The younger kids are, the more they need guidance with their gadgets. The key is to “balance exposure.”
- Limit screen time — You can extend their screen time as your kids are getting older, as long as they prove that they are responsible enough.
- Monitor the content — Always check if parental controls or on, and download educational apps on their devices.
You can read more articles about how to use technology wisely at FutureScienceNews.com.