They ask them to tell jokes or a bedtime story, to turn the light on and off, to play a piece of music. They question them when they need answers for their homework. They turn to them for information about the result of a football match, their favorite actor, their favorite singer.
There are more and more children, even very young children, who interact with voice responders on a daily basis.
In Italy the habit is relatively recent, but in countries like the United States such devices Alexa or Google Home they have been part of home furnishings for several years now and many children were born after they entered the house.
There is much discussion, and often in a catastrophic way, about the relationship between the new generations and technology. The problems are many and all in search of a solution. Compared to voice responders, the doubt that is now gripping the experts, not so much in Italy as abroad, is how to educate the little ones to be polite and respectful even towards these boxes that are placed on our shelves, bedside tables, bookcases.
Of course, you don’t need to be really polite with software.
He is asked for information. You get (or don’t get) an answer. And the interaction should end there.
In reality, this is not the case.
Look at this sentence:
Hey Google? Turn on the bedroom light!
Google, like a good program built to serve, turns on the light. He does not pretend to be thanked. It does not require any form of courtesy. Executes an order. In the best way.
Imagine now that a 5/6 year old child addresses his mother, father and siblings in the same way.
Hey mom! Turn on the bedroom light!
At the very least, his mother would point out that the phrase is missing a ‘please’, a ‘thank you’.
On the other hand, a child, especially a very small one, used to addressing himself in this way to get what he needs, may find it difficult to distinguish the two planes. And this is exactly what is happening in countries where these technological forms have been a reality for some time.
Children struggle to understand how to talk to a human being and how to talk to a machine.
Hence the need to educate children to use a kind and respectful language even towards machines.
Hence the need to revise the human-machine language by endowing artificial intelligence with a sort of ‘sensitivity’ (Google Home, for example, seems to show a form of contentment when thanking him or addressing him kindly)