Last year, I watched my son and my niece (who are the same age), give conflicting commands to Alexa, the digital assistant in our household. At first they were doing pretty well, taking turns asking for different songs, but it devolved into them talking over one another until parental intervention was required. On another occasion, I had a guest (who was used to interacting with digital assistants) interrupt almost every song on a playlist to ask Alexa a question about the artist or the album related to the song.
It was from these incidents, and several others like it, that I learned to play music from another source and unplug Alexa when the kids were around.
But maybe that is a bit extreme and selfish of me: I didn't want a device to interrupt my vision for the day, but maybe others really enjoy interacting with digital assistants.
I pay attention when my son interacts with our devices. It's not often, but he will ask it for music, the weather, to set a timer while cooking or to tell him a joke, basically repeating the behaviors of his parents (that last request was learned from my husband). He hasn't quite figured out that Alexa can do so much more than that, although I am sure those days are numbered.
One thing I haven't done is asked him his thoughts about Alexa. That seems like an obvious miss on my part, as there are a number of studies right now to research how children think about the devices present in their home.
What I do know is that I need to start thinking about Alexa's place in our lives, just as I do all the other devices in our home: Just because I (for the most part) ignore them, doesn't mean that this will be the right behavior for everyone.
(I may still unplug it when guests are over.)
What role do digital assistants play in your family's life? Tell me in the comments.