Wed. Apr 24th, 2024
A recent study found that utilising voice-controlled assistants can have an ongoing effect on a child's social and intellectual development.

We are surrounded by artificial intelligence (AI)-powered gadgets nowadays, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Home, which can be used for a variety of tasks including setting an alarm, playing music, asking inquiries, and so on.

But according to a research in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, using such devices can eventually impede a child’s development of their empathy, compassion, and critical thinking abilities.

According to Anmol Arora of the University of Cambridge and the co-author of the study, “The multiple impacts on children include inappropriate responses, impeding social development and hindering learning opportunities.” 

The main issue in this situation, according to the co-author, is that children mistakenly attach human qualities to these machines, which are really merely taught words and sounds combined to form sentences. Children anthropomorphize these tools, he continued, and then mimic them by simply duplicating them without changing their tone, volume, emphasis, or intonation. As a result, using these technologies to learn social interaction is a poor choice because they cannot participate in non-verbal communication.

On the other hand, children receive helpful feedback in regular human encounters if they behave improperly, which a device cannot possible guarantee. Additionally, these tools do not automatically require kids to say “please” or “thank you.”

The type of inquiries that can be answered by devices is also restricted, which could teach kids “extremely narrow forms of inquiring and always in the form of a demand,” according to Arora. He continued by pointing out the difficulty in recognising different accents, saying that if the child is young and does not pronounce some words correctly, there is a chance of misinterpretation and that they would be exposed to improper material.

“This is particularly important at a time when children might already have had social development impaired as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and when (the children) might have been spending more time isolated with smart devices at home,” said the researcher. 

He listed the device that once advised a 10-year-old to try touching a live plug with a coin as one of the improper responses. Although the use of voice assistants as a social companion for lonely adults has showed potential, it is not totally apparent if that holds true for kids, the study adds.

The traditional methods by which children learn and assimilate knowledge may be hampered by the fact that these devices are made to seek for desired information and give it a clear, short response. Arora argued that there is an urgent need for research into the long-term effects of youngsters using such devices.

The usage of smartphones and tablets is “rewiring” children’s brains with long-term implications, according to a recent study by Dr. Dám Miklósi, which supports this idea. These gadgets are currently extremely archaic since their creators don’t care about interpersonal relationships or how they affect children’s growth, according to Miklósi. While the corporations are aware of how adults use them, he continued, children’s utilisation of electronics and their effects are “quite different.”

Miklósi concluded that the study is significant and that businesses ought to treat this issue carefully.

By Editor

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