Alexa… An Anecdote

I was having dinner with a friend a few months ago who has an almost toddler, a newborn, and a 5-year-old. That is a lot of small children all at once in a household. We were talking and I mentioned the new generation of the Amazon Echo Dot we had gotten for our house. We have several throughout our apartment and use them in different capacities depending on the room.

They also have a few Alexa-enabled devices in their home, and with all the children, they use them a lot more for things like turning on the TV. One point in particular, my friend asks Alexa to turn on Netflix to a specific show for their toddler.

Well, one day, they are in the living room and the toddler looks up at the TV and says, in jumbled toddler talk “Alllea”. He was trying to turn on the TV and use Alexa to turn on his show. This toddler, who can’t talk yet, knew the concept that Alexa turns on the TV to make his shows happen.
What does this mean as technology advances? It used to be giving kids coloring books, but now we have them working on tablets as small children. The World Health Organization says that children ages 3-4 should have no more than one hour of sedentary screen time. One hour. Most kid’s movies are longer than an hour! That recommendation is made, but a child that same age is already learning how to control the technology around him without being able to talk. We don’t know the effect that technology at a young age will have on the brain, and we can only wait and see how these effects will manifest in the long run. For better or worse.