This article discussed the effect that smart speakers have and can have in the future on children, their families, and education. A statistic was provided that “One in six Americans now owns a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, and 75 percent of homes are likely to have one by 2020” (KQED).
With these speakers making their ways into more and more homes, information and learning opportunities are more accessible to children than ever before. Because of this, it raises questions for educators and parents in regards to how this will affect their learning and relationships with people surrounding them . Like adults, children are trying to keep up with involving technology that surrounds us every single day. It was mentioned that children are drawn to these devices because they provide instant gratification, which is something that kids strive for. It was stated that parents could use this device as a way to encourage their child to practice speaking and language skills, or to enrich and build upon questions. Because serve – and – return is extremely important for children’s development, the lack of conversation this device provides could cause problems with socialization and communication skills. Although these speakers raise question s, they can provide great learning opportunities like any other piece of technology if used correctly.
Having a smart speaker inside of a household can affect a family and young children more than one would think. Parents could become lazy, if not lazier, and rely on the speaker for their child to talk to because they are tired or too busy . For example, if the child has a question, a parent might tell the child to go ask the speaker instead of talking to them because they don’t have time. They could also reinforce bad behavior from children because the speakers respond every time . If a child makes a rude comment to the speaker, it will reply with a much different response than an adult would, so without any correction, this would encourage the bad behavior from the child because they might find the comments the device says back funny. Children are also losing the relationship building aspect if this device is used incorrectly. Parents can use this device to their advantage to enrich or build upon questions (ex. If a child asks “What’s the weather?” The parents can turn it into a learning opportunity and follow up by saying “Alexa, you told us it’s raining, so what do you think we should wear?”) This shows children that expanding on questions and being specific is important. Parents should also monitor the child while they are interacting with the device because it is possible the child will get upset if the device does not understand them. If this happens, parents can use this as a time to motivate their child to practice their articulation, words, etc. Conversation is important for a child’s learning. When conversation does not take place, students are losing this crucial piece of development. If they are talking to this device all the time, they will lack social interaction and will never learn how to react to certain situations or understand body language. Other than children lacking communication skills and or socialization skills, I don’t believe that this speaker will impact early childhood education too much. The biggest thing is that because it takes much more than just asking questions to a smart speaker to learn, so children relying on this device to teach them is making it harder on the teachers and will most likely cause them to have to re-teach lessons. If these devices are used in the classroom, the may cause a major distraction for certain students who might find it funny to say “Hey Alexa” in the middle of instruction, causing there to be an interruption.
One way to incorporate this device into the classroom would be to use it as an audiobook source. The use of the device this way could help students with comprehension and vocabulary. One way this device could be used with EL’s or special education students is to have them practice talking back and fort
h to the speaker saying simple words and phrases to work on their speaking and understanding of the content. Another way to incorporate this speaker
into the classroom for Early Childhood is to use it to add a fun song into any lesson plan that one may find beneficial for enhancing the students understanding.
Our guest blogger:
My name is Karina Robinson and I am currently a Junior at Towson University pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I spent my first two and a half years in college pursuing my Associates in Early Childhood and Special Education at Carroll
Community College. I have been employed at Celebree Learning Centers for 4 years now, which has given me a lot of knowledge and practice in the field of education. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and being outside.