May 14, 2021

Why don’t children trust virtual assistants? | Trends


Although there are exceptions, in general, children do not pay more attention to the mobile than their parents do. They may pay more attention, but if they have a doubt, they tend to trust their parents more than Wikipedia.

A group of researchers from the universities of Huazhong and Louisville recently published a study about the trust that more than fifty Chinese children between five and eight years old placed in virtual devices. The researchers conducted a questionnaire for minors that included questions such as: “What color do you think is the favorite of Americans?” Then, they offered two different answers: one, was the one that could be found on the internet at the question; another, was given by his teacher.

In general, and although the teacher’s response was wrong, most of the boys trusted this more than the answer that could be found on the internet. The authority that the teacher has over his students or the fact that he has a greater general culture is not a sufficient argument to explain why young people trusted his criteria. When a partner suggested something different from the internet response they also gave him more credibility.

Judith Danovitch, one of the driving researchers of this study, remembers when her four-year-old son used the family’s iPad to ask Siri if he knew what color the shirt he was wearing was. Danovitch points out that what his son was doing was testing the limits of knowledge of Apple’s virtual assistant.

In his opinion, this attitude is due to the fact that, for the little ones, both the internet and virtual assistants are something intangible that is difficult to understand and distrust because they do not understand how they work or on what they base their knowledge. “Children pay attention, remember who knows what they are talking about and who is not and do not believe in any response they receive. If we talk about the internet, we must understand that they do not believe blindly in what they find there,” explained to MIT Technology Review.

Silvia Lovato, a researcher at the University of the Northwest (USA), published the results of an investigation entitled: “Hello Google, are there unicorns?”, Which studied children in an age range similar to those studied by Danovitch . In it, it reflected the doubts that the children had regarding the voice assistants and emphasized the creativity with which they were tested. The conclusion of his study is not very different from the one drawn from Danovitch’s research: the human being does not trust technology by nature.

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