Can Alexa and Siri make your kids bossier?

Kids love to tell Alexa or Siri to tell jokes, make animal noises or sing songs, whose helpers happily cling to them. But can this move children to act in a royal way?

New research suggests that this may not be the case.
Chatting with the robot has now become part of the lives of many everyday families, thanks to Apple Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Now, their use has increased as the Covid-19 epidemic forces children inside their homes.

A recent study led by the University of Washington seeks to understand whether socializing with Alexa or Siri affects how children interact with other people. Probably not, they have found that children are sensitive to the context of these conversations.

The team had a speaking agent who taught 22 children between the ages of 5 and 10 to use the word “bungo” to ask them to speak very quickly.

“We were curious as to whether the children were adopting conversational habits in their daily interactions with Alexa and other agents,” said lead author Alexis Hiniker, an assistant professor of UW at the School of Information.

“Most of the available research looks at agents designed to teach a particular skill, such as math. That’s very different from the habits a child can accidentally acquire by talking to one of these things, ”adds Hiniker.

The majority of children, 64 percent, remember to use the bungo for the first time when the agent reduced their speech, and they all learned the process.

While many children use the bungo in conversations with their parents, it became a source of play or inward humor by acting like a robot.

But when the researcher spoke less to the children, the children rarely used the bungo, and often waited patiently for the researcher to finish speaking before responding.

In this case, only 18 percent of the 22 children used the brain and the researcher.

None of them commented on the researcher’s emergency speech, even though some of them looked into their parents’ eyes.

Studies have shown that children “have a deep sense that robots are not human beings, and they did not want that line to fade”, Hiniker said.

While these findings suggest that children will treat Siri differently than they treat people, it is possible that conversations with the agent may subtly affect children’s behavior – such as using a certain language or tone of voice – when talking to other people, Hiniker said.

But the fact that so many kids wanted to try something new with their parents suggests that designers can create a shared experience like this to help kids learn new things. (IANS)

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