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AI products for kids that promise friendship and learning? 3 things to think about

Smart toys with web connections and AI-powered robots which have the power to perform sophisticated social interactions with children widespread today. This is undoubtedly attributable to the rapid development of artificial intelligence, the impact of which is widely felt. Companies wish to increase their productivity and saleswhile Governments are considering security measures in their AI strategies.

Child-friendly AI products include:

Parents and professionals who work with children may feel pressure to buy these or other products as a substitute for in-person activities akin to playdates, therapy or games – or wonder about their usefulness and potential role in children's lives.

Before we move right into a world of AI babysitters, machine therapists, and teacher robots, we must always rigorously examine this technology to evaluate its capabilities and suitability for kids's lives.

Internet-connected smart toys might be fascinating, but they usually are not without risks.

Informed decisions

We must examine the assumptions embedded in these products or the way in which they’re marketed and advocate for scientific approaches in assessing their effectiveness.

Evidence-based approaches from psychology, child development and education and related areas can systematically test, observe and make recommendations to be used of recent technologies without industrial interests. This, in turn, promotes informed decisions for fogeys and professionals working with children.

This is crucial in AI systems – systems that don’t ensure transparency of their decision-making processes. There are also concerns regarding Data protection and surveillance.

What underlying assumptions could also be suggested or directly asserted by these technologies, and the way are they marketed? Three are examined below.


Since AI products can react with human-like characteristics and emotions, one might assume that these products can possess these. As other scientists have identified, there is no such thing as a reason to consider that the demonstration of human emotion or empathy is anything greater than a mere simulation. As sociologist Sherry Turkle memorably described in a 2018 opinion pieceThis technology presents us with “artificial intimacy” that may work, but can never compare to the depth of human inner life.

A child with a technical toy.
AI products may respond with human-like qualities and emotions, but this doesn’t mean that human qualities are present.

One can assume that AI systems don’t really need to have human characteristics if their focus is on providing care, therapy or learning, avoiding the concerns mentioned above.

But characteristics which have made human presence essential to child development are directly related to emotional life and characteristics akin to: human empathy and compassion.

Gold standard interventions for mental health problems in children, akin to psychotherapy, demand human characteristics like warmth, openness, respect and trustworthiness. Although AI products can simulate a therapeutic conversation, this mustn’t force people to make use of these products.


Social relationships that children can develop with others (be they friendships, therapeutic alliances, or teacher-student bonds). has proven to be useful through many years of human research. As mentioned above, many AI products geared toward children could position themselves as alternatives to those roles.

However, the extent to which research into human-to-human experiences can provide insights into the advantages of child-AI relationships mustn’t be taken without any consideration. We know this from many years of psychological research Contextual aspects akin to culture and the way in which educational and therapeutic interventions are implemented are extremely essential. Given the novelty of the technology and the shortage of intensive non-commercial research on child-friendly AI products, we must approach efficacy claims with caution.

Parents seen cuddling and laughing with a child on a couch.
Children will all the time profit from an enticing and considerate human presence.

The value of human presence

Early periods of development are crucial to children's success in maturity.

Social interactions with parents, friends and teachers can happen profound impact on a toddler's learning, development and understanding of the world. But what if a few of these interactions happen with AI systems? Psychology researchers, Human interaction with computer And Learn science Are to research these and related questions ongoing research.

Ultimately, we don't consider AI must be completely excluded from children's lives. Generative AI is an exciting type of AI with its conversational interfaces, access to wealthy information, and media creation capabilities. Learning workshops as conducted by MIT Media Lab
Offer children and young people the chance to find out about data and privacy and discuss ideas about AI.

Children need human care and companionship and can all the time profit from an enticing, emotional and considerate human presence. Empathy, compassion and validation are typically human. It is irreplaceable to permit one other person to feel what we feel and to say, “If I were you, I’d feel the identical way.” So perhaps we must always leave these situations to the individuals who do it best can – people!


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