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How do voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana shape children?

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A woman displays "Siri", voice-activated assistant.
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Kids might love having Alexa around to help with homework, set the alarm clock or tell them the weather – but what are the effects of these “smart” voice assistants on child development?

It’s likely that voice assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa will soon become a staple of family life, but their impact on the way children are socialized is still unclear.

According to the Washington Post, some children who often use voice assistants become more rude, because they get acclimated to removing social niceties such as “please” and “thank you” from their speech.

That’s something toy maker Mattel is looking to address with Aristotle, a home baby monitor similar to the Echo that can play games with kids, read aloud from children’s books, and, yes, require that kids say “please” when asking questions to help instill manners.

If you’re a parent who owns a voice assistant, how does it affect your children? What are the negatives? The positives? What child-friendly functionality would you want to see in a smart voice assistant?


Sandra Calvert, professor of psychology at Georgetown University and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center