In the 21st century, technology is a bigger part of our lives than ever before. While adults are finding that smart technology makes life easier, young children grow up with smart tech in every setting. Classrooms, in particular, are becoming increasingly connected, so it makes sense for them to have consistency in the tools they’re using at home and at school.
Using smart technology is also super fun. All kids have to do is give Alexa a command and—voila!—that word is spelled, that math problem is done, or the lights are turned off. But as with any technology that is connected to the Internet, you have to give your children some rules and guidance on how to use it safely.
Set Time Restrictions
First and foremost, set up time restrictions, just as you would with any other device. Decide when your child can use Alexa, and stick to it. Solace Shen, a psychologist at Cornell University, says that, while “these devices offer more engagement and interaction than just passively watching TV,” it’s important to “make sure there is a balance between the time kids are interacting with the systems versus interacting with humans, doing physical activities, and getting enough rest.”
That point about interaction is particularly important—a smart speaker shouldn’t replace face-to-face communication. By modeling how to speak to the digital assistant and providing some human engagement in the process, you can help your child learn how to use it safely.
Address Security Concerns
Explain to your kids why it’s important to not talk to Alexa about personal information (e.g. phone number, address, etc.). Young children, especially, may have a difficult time understanding that Alexa is not a real person, so you may need to supervise them every time they use the speaker. Employing the idea of “stranger danger” around the speaker might also help very young kids understand how to protect themselves. For older children, you can be a bit more direct—explain that smart speakers save data in the cloud, which can get hacked.
Make a List of Commands
Making a list of potential commands and describing what they do will give your children more independence when using Alexa.
Start small—install a multicolored Zipato Bulb 2 in their room, and teach them how to use the speaker to change the hue. As they start to grasp exactly what smart tech can do, you can expand the list of commands; teach them to use commands for the Schlage Smart Deadbolt to lock the door after they get home or to tell Alexa to activate the GoControl Garage Door Opener to close the garage after they get back from a bike ride.
Put boundaries on what’s off-limits for the speaker, too. While your kids might think it’s fun to order 20 pizzas, you probably won’t find it quite as cute. Just in case, it’s a good idea to set up a PIN number to avoid impulsive or unwanted purchases.
When you look at smart technology as another opportunity to interact with your child, it can be a powerful learning tool. Because when it comes to what these smart assistants can do, the possibilities are just about endless.
Don't have Amazon Echo set up with your smart home yet, but you're ready to get started?
Check out this quick guide to find out how Amazon Alexa and Z-Wave provide you with the ultimate smart home control.