Is the Risk Worth the Benefit for Our Children?

Are Internet Connected Toys Safe?

“Cayla is just one example of a new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) toys that “befriend” children. Manufacturers often claim they are educational, enhancing play and helping children develop social skills. But consumer groups warn that smart toys, like other “things” we connect to the internet, might put security and privacy at risk.
-Kay Firth Butterfield, Head of A.I. & Machine Learning

Amazon Echo recently recorded a woman’s conversation and emailed the conversation to her friend, Uber’s self-driving car detected a pedestrian 6 seconds before a fatal crash but didn’t identify her as a pedestrian, and “My Friend Cayla” is an internet-connected doll that uses voice recognition to interact with children. The technology of today is being marketed to consumers as tools that will make our lives easier and better. But we must stop and ask ourselves if the risk is worth the benefit for our children?

We are creating the world that our children will inherit. They will receive the good technology and the bad effects of the technology. As parents, we enjoyed a society where our conversations weren’t recorded without our permission, but this will be normal for future generations. Having such devices may help stop the next school shooter, or help the FBI uncover the next terrorist plot, so there are positive benefits that technology brings. As parents and guardians of the future, we must weigh the risk versus the benefits for our children.

My hope is that parents stay ahead of the technological trends so they can prepare their kids to know how to manage the technology in their lives. Many parents need a lesson on how to do this as well. Jen Beason, a second-grade teacher, had her students write about their parent’s usage of technology and every student said, “their parents spend more time on FB then they do talking to their child.” We are the generation that decides what happens next, please choose wisely, or Orwell’s book 1984 will continue to become our future!

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Read More: What Happens When Your Child’s Friend is an A.I. Toy that Talks Back?

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