Urgent Amazon Alexa alert for ALL parents as new danger revealed – The Irish Sun

Voice-enabled devices like Amazon’s Echo speakers and Google Home devices could slow children’s development.

Experts say the gadgets could have “long-term consequences for empathy, compassion and critical thinking” in children.

Amazon has a range of Echo speakers aimed at younger users

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Amazon has a range of Echo speakers aimed at younger usersCredit: Amazon

Millions of devices around the world are equipped with artificial intelligence powered smart assistants like Alexa and Siri.

Children are often left alone to play with, chat with, or read to the devices and receive human-like responses.

Using the devices as language and reading aids for young people could have negative consequences, experts said.

The artificial intelligence (AI) powering the devices, combined with the human-sounding voices, “may negatively impact children’s cognitive and social development,” researchers wrote in the journal Archives of childhood illnesses.

In the opinion piece, scientists warn that smart speakers and other devices can have long-term effects on how a child grows up.

They claimed that potential effects include “inappropriate responses,” “hindering social development,” and “hindering learning opportunities.”

“Multiple effects on children include inappropriate responses, impeding social development and impeding learning opportunities,” said co-author Anmol Arora of the University of Cambridge.

One problem, she added, is that children associate human attributes with devices that are “essentially a list of trained words and sounds that are stitched together into a sentence.”

Children can end up copying the devices and imitating their robotic way of speaking, which is detrimental to their development.

The machines also don’t automatically expect children to say please or thank you, researchers said.

“The lack of ability to engage in non-verbal communication makes using the devices a poor method for learning social interaction,” the researchers wrote.

However, they highlighted Alexa’s “magic word” feature – which uses positive reinforcement for polite manners – as an “important step in the right direction”.

Some of the data used in the research is a decade old and has yet to be peer reviewed.

That means scientists haven’t reviewed it yet to make sure it meets appropriate academic standards.

An Amazon spokesman said: “Alexa is designed to provide accurate and helpful information.

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“Many of our customers have told us that Amazon Kids on Alexa, Echo Dot Kids and Kids Skills are helping their children, including those with autism and ADHD.

“We believe language technology will be a big part of the future and our goal is to provide children with an educational experience combined with controls that give parents peace of mind.”

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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9485224/urgent-amazon-alexa-warning-parents-danger-revealed/ Urgent Amazon Alexa alert for ALL parents as new danger revealed – The Irish Sun

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