Leitrim Mammy Diaries: Alexa, put the kids to bed and stick on the kettle

Fiona Heavey

Reporter:

Fiona Heavey

Email:

fiona.heavey@leitrimobserver.ie

Leitrim Mammy Diaries: Alexa, put the kids to bed and stick on the kettle

Do you have a smart device? Do you trust Google Home or Alexa to answer your children's questions factually and in their best interest?

Alexa, can you read the bedtime book for the tenth time? Ok Google, remind the kids why we need to get our shoes on and be at school for 9am. Alexa, can you please teach my two-year old his colours. Ok Google, please decide who started the fight that has left both children in tears …


We do not have a digital slave in our house but I am under increasing pressure to get an artificial intelligent device. The five-year-old says ALL her friends have one, Daddy thinks it would be cool and the two-year-old is screaming he wants one, just because he likes screaming!


I have to say I am really impressed with smart devices, they allow you to turn on and off lights, heating, check the time, play music, set alarms, get news, answer questions and much, much more. They are learning everyday and becoming increasingly intelligent.


I imagine most of you reading this has one, they are a nifty little gadget, and it seemed like everyone got one last Christmas, well according to my five-year-old they did.


But as it stands, I am putting down my foot and staying strong on my stance that we don’t need it. I have a few reasons for my decision but the main ones are over data security as the microphone is always on, the promotion of laziness and I am not comfortable about my children getting all their answers from a consumer led algorithm. Also I really do not want to put myself out of a job - the mammy job.


It is my job to shout at everyone to get shoes and coats on every morning, it is part of my position to argue with my two-year-old that all colours are not called red, I hold responsibility for deciding who gets disciplined when the children fight and despite the fact I just want to curl up on the couch and watch TV in the evenings; it is my privilege to read the bedtime books more than once for children who just love listening to stories.


As I strive to give the kids more responsibility with little chores and requests, it is their star chart that should get rewarded not Google Home who turns off all the lights and the TV.


Homework can be tedious and of course we all have so much to do in the evenings, but I have noticed Alexa and Google taking on the parental role in a few too many homes recently.
Yes Google does have all the answers and it probably has a better grasp on the ‘modh coinníollach’ than most parents but the aim of homework is not to have the right answer on the copy for teacher, but to highlight where students are struggling and excelling and to help them.


I am all for a disco in the kitchen at a simple request, who doesn't want to feel warmer while not moving from the couch, hey I might even be on for Alexa ordering a pizza at the weekend, but there are also legitimate concerns over this new technology.


Do you trust Google to give your children the right answer to every question, does Alexa align with your religious and political beliefs? Will it's 'facts' come from Fox News or the highest bidder online?
Are you ok with the AI device always listening and recording your conversations? Will the children demand Alexa to do their bidding and forget the skill of asking politely?


Also it is difficult enough not getting the kids names mixed up with the dog without throwing Alexa into the mix - and our broadband is definitely not up to the task!

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