There’s no doubting the reality. Our younger generation is growing up with smartphones and tablets in their hands, which the critics like to label youth phone addiction. Apple has recently been under fire from shareholders for negligence towards this growing addiction. So, what could be the solution to curb this problem at hand?
Well, experts and researchers have chimed in and asserted that the smart speakers can help break children from content, especially screens, which affect attention spans and are an easy source of distraction. They believe smart speakers offer something different, and can be more useful for educational purposes, pulling the kids away from iPads or iPhones.
Smart Speakers: A Better Alternative?
According to Solace Shen, a researcher at Cornell who studying children interactions with intelligent technologies, smart speakers offer an enormous opportunity to both hardware makers and parents. Screen-free speakers behave like a smartphone-basesd assistant would and can be molded to make them kid-friendly.
The smart speakers have the advantage of being voice-enabled, which helps kids improve communication and interaction skills, which are often lost when viewing smartphone displays. Speaking in favour of the smart speakers, Shen continues to add,
“Playing a game with an adult or another child using a voice-enabled device, you’re not focused on a screen, so the interaction encourages you to look at each other and pay attention to each other.”
She further states that smart speakers have been designed to be “unobtrusive” and could be placed at the corner of a room. It speaks up only when you command them to, which is definitely a plus to curb screen addiction. You can also teach your kids to be more inquisitive and ask the smart speaker questions they’d like an answer for.
A Work In Progress
Smart assistants, powered by AI and machine learning, are constantly learning to evolve and better understand the needs of the users. Both Google and Amazon have already started baking in parental controls and make a wide variety of children-friendly content readily available on their smart speakers. Interestingly, both have adopted smart displays as well.
Both of them currently offer you the capability to set up and switch to kid modes, which enable you to easily monitor usage and limit the content your kids have access to. As for the content, you can kick-start trivia games and interactive story-reading sessions on your Echo or Google Home smart speaker. The reception to these features has been a go and Google believes,
There’s really a huge opportunity for [them] to make the experience for kids and families even better.
The tech giants are currently building even tight-knit parental controls which could make the speakers more trustable around kids in our homes.
Ultimately, it is necessary for the parent to administer or at the very least monitor what kids consume and impressions created by visual stimuli are harder to rewrite than using a voice-enabled device. It could be one of the big reasons for a shift in direction for the use of virtual assistants from phones to a speaker.