What can you teach a child who has the internet at their fingertips? And AI assistants with them at all times? That is the conundrum staring parents in the face today; we are coming to grips with just how much access this generation has to information and resources. Will these virtual assistants replace the method of gaining knowledge that children have been using since the dawn of time – asking their parents? A recent news story told of a child’s first word before he even said Mama or Dada, he said Alexa. This proves a shift in information gathering for Generation Alpha that needs to be addressed and understood.
Who is Generation Alpha?
Unlike their predecessors, Generation Alpha (Gen A) wakes up in a world immersed in technology, smart devices in their hands just as soon as they can hold them. While their parents had a television in their living rooms, Gen A is entertained anywhere with portable tablets and smartphones. According to The genAlpha Project, they truly are the first ‘digital native’ generation, born and shaped fully in the high-tech 21st century and the first generation born into the world with a digital footprint.
The Impact of AI Assistants
“Ok Google, how many people will be using digital assistants in 2021?”
Go-Gulf estimates that 1.8 billion people in the world will own a smart speaker, complete with an AI assistant, by 2021. It has also been reported that 31% of users say that AI assistants are part of their everyday lives. However, these users have gradually learned to use AI assistants whereas Gen A will be born into using them. Usage among this generation will likely be a lot higher than their predecessors. So in which ways will Gen A use AI most?
Asking parents a question constantly can exasperate them to the point where only vague answers are given in return. However, asking an AI assistant can result in enthusiasm and high-quality answers each time. This could make Gen A the smartest generation in history so far, with easy access to any information they want.
Amazon has launched the ‘Alexa Skills’ feature on its app where children can access thousands of skills on Amazon’s smart speaker. These ‘skills’ range from apps such as Curiosity, which tells facts about thousands of topics to the sophisticated 4A Fart, designed to make children laugh by simply making the noises. This feature will adhere to children’s demands for immediate knowledge or humour. This could make the generation expect the same rapid responses in non-AI related activities too.
AI will have a significant impact on Generation Alpha. Kids will be more reliant on their virtual assistants than many other sources of information and interaction. However, whilst they will rely on assistants for answers, children will still need an initial spark that makes them question things in the first place. This is how parents and non-AI content stay relevant as the foundation stones for Gen A’s initial curiosity.