Category: children

Social networking sites as virtual ‘showcases’

Social networking sites as virtual ‘showcases’:

A survey of Italian mothers who engage in ‘sharenting’ suggests they are motivated by both a desire for external validation, as well as more communitarian goals such as sharing moments with distant relatives and seeking support. But while many mothers see it as their right to engage in sharenting, what implications does this have for children’s rights and privacy? 

Digital Human: Series 17, Ep 4 – Cameo

Amazon Echo Is Magical. It’s Also Turning My K…

Amazon Echo Is Magical. It’s Also Turning My Kid Into an Asshole.:

We love our Amazon Echo. Among other tasks, my four year old finds the knock knock jokes hilarious, the weather captivating, the ability to summon songs comparable to magic and Echo to be the best speller in the house. But I fear it’s also turning our daughter into a raging asshole. Because Alexa tolerates poor manners.

Digital Human: Series 15, Ep 5 – Subservience

Alexa wants children to say please

Alexa wants children to say please:

Amazon’s smart assistant Alexa can now be made to encourage children to say: “Please,” and: “Thank you,” when issuing it voice commands.

The new function addresses some parents’ concerns that use of the technology was teaching their offspring to sound officious or even rude.

In addition, parents can now set time limits on when requests are responded to, and can block some services.

The move has been welcomed by one of Alexa’s critics.

In January, the research company ChildWise published a report warning that youngsters that grew up accustomed to barking orders at Alexa, Google Assistant or some other virtual personality might become aggressive in later dealings with humans.

“This is a very positive development,” research director Simon Leggett told the BBC.

“We had noticed that practically none of the children that we had talked to said they ever used the words ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ when talking to their devices.

"Younger children will enjoy having the added interactivity, but older children may be less likely to use it as they will be more aware it’s a robot at the other end.”

Digital Human: Series 15, Ep 5 – Subservience

We Will Literally Predict Their Life Outcomes”

We Will Literally Predict Their Life Outcomes”:

Earlier this year, I met an entrepreneur who believed people could become better parents by texting with a software program she’d built. To me, a new mother, it sounded like magic. By corresponding with me, the program would learn so much about my son that it’d be able to predict his future happiness, earning potential, and even his life span. Based on those projections, it would assign me an activity each morning meant to improve those outcomes. In other words, the program, called Muse, would literally turn my son, Kavi, into a richer, happier, longer-living adult than he otherwise would’ve been.

Sign up to get Backchannel’s weekly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Maybe this sounds ridiculous. But the entrepreneur had caught me at a vulnerable time. I’d believed myself to be an intelligent, capable person, but parenthood had me feeling stupid and kind of unhinged. Kavi was about to turn 11 months old. My husband and I had vowed at the outset not to become hyper-vigilant parents, but we’d lately wondered if we’d instead been too cavalier.

At our last visit to the doctor’s office, I’d been given a questionnaire asking, among other things, whether Kavi had learned at least three words and whether he could respond to at least one simple verbal command. My answer to both: Wait — that’s possible? Also, Kavi was small for his age, which a nurse suggested was because we weren’t feeding him right.

The point being that when I visited this entrepreneur’s website, and it had a picture on it of a fierce little girl in a cape, and the text said something about giving me a superpower, I thought that might do me some good. It might at least better prepare us for the next doctor’s visit. Bring on the questionnaires, I thought.

The Digital Human, Series 13, Episode 6 – Oracle

Human-like robots may have a disturbing impact…

Human-like robots may have a disturbing impact on actual humans:

Stuart Russell, vice chair of the World Economic Forum Council on robotics and artificial intelligence, called for a “ban of highly human-like humanoid robots” during the Milken Institute’s panel titled “Artificial Intelligence: Friend or Foe?”

“We’re just not equipped in our basic brain apparatus to see something that’s perfectly humanoid and not treat it as a human being,” he said. “So in some sense, a humanoid robot is lying to us using the lower levels of our brain we don’t get to control.”

“Particularly for young children, growing up in a household where there are humanoid robots and humans it could be extremely confusing,” he said. “And we could see psychoses developing as a result of machines not behaving as the child expects them to behave because they think its a human.”

A study done by various Japanese researchers actually found that children are likely to show “serious abusive behaviors” towards robots. The researchers concluded that the more human-like the robots looked (or more they approached the uncanny valley) the more likely it was for kids to start beating them up.

Little kids might just be evil though… it’s a distinct possibility…

The Digital Human, Series 13, Episode 3 – Visage

The joys of parenthood… 

The joys of parenthood… 

Andy Pandy, children’s TV puppet. A crea…

Andy Pandy, children’s TV puppet. A creature of powerful popular resonance in Britain, born on this day in 1950, in a live children’s TV programme watched by millions. The programme ran on BBC TV until 1970 and was revived several times after that. This 1950 photograph from the BBC archives is, incidentally, as far as I can tell, an outrageous, pre-Photoshop fake. You can definitely see the join.

Andy Pandy, children’s TV puppet. A crea…

Andy Pandy, children’s TV puppet. A creature of powerful popular resonance in Britain, born on this day in 1950, in a live children’s TV programme watched by millions. The programme ran on BBC TV until 1970 and was revived several times after that. This 1950 photograph from the BBC archives is, incidentally, as far as I can tell, an outrageous, pre-Photoshop fake. You can definitely see the join.