The first four words one New York toddler interpreted were “mom,” “dad,” “Alexa” and “cat.”
Cameron (the toddler) initially recognized the name of Amazon’s voice assistant while seated, in his high chair, covered in spaghetti sauce.
No sooner than his mum said “Alexa,” he whipped his head around to gape at the Echo speaker nestled behind the bookcase. The toddler heard his mother say “Alexa” plenty of times before, however at length he established the Echo would illuminate and say something.
To the baby, now 20 months old, Alexa is not merely a virtual assistant — she is the household DJ, the alert to take the ziti out of the oven and the sole who dims the lights when the family’s too fatigued to get off the couch. When Alexa reacts a tick or so later, Cameron smiles.
The wily toddler’s relationship with Alexa is progressively common, experts contend, and the word being in a toddler’s early language skill-set is not as astonishing as you’d think.
“Any word you say a lot becomes an early word for little kids,” explained Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, president of the International Society for Infant Studies. “You probably say, ‘Alexa’ often because you start a sentence with it to play a song. Anything that generates a response is a likely candidate for an early word — no matter what it is.”
“There are numerous anecdotes that young children think there’s a little person inside the device or there’s a person on the other end of the exchange, like a telephone,” Rachel Severson, University of Montana child psychologist, says. “These illustrate that children are actively trying to figure out how to conceptualize these devices — are they alive or not alive? Is it a real person in there?”
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