You might be a mom who has high tech in her pocket or you might still be sending in your utility payments via snail mail. No matter how big (or small) of a techie you may be, the future is here and our kids are using technology at an increasing rate. Odds are, they’ve already met a robot. It’s up to you to take advantage of this technology to help you parent your child and keep them safe. We’re not talking about tech toys for Christmas gifts—we’re talking about tech that can help you be a better parent.
Once upon a time, robots and our interactions with them were nothing more than the plotline of sci-fi movies. Not anymore. Robotic technology is everywhere. And it’s making life more convenient, safe and even green. If you own a smartphone, you’ve more than likely already interacted with robots. The ones you may run into on a lot of websites are called chatbots—they’re easy for companies to make and they’ve been touching our lives for quite some time.
But chatbots aren’t the only type of robot—they’re everywhere. And no matter how you feel about them as a mother, one thing is for certain: they’re here to stay. Before you run for the hills, consider these three ways that these bots can help you as a parent.
Help with homework.
Ideally, every parent has time to help one-on-one with a child’s homework, right? But in reality, most households are composed of parents who work full-time and are stretched. Besides, math strategies today are vastly different than even 10 years ago. Bot help should be a supplement to parental help, not a substitute.
Additionally, bots can help with every subject—not just math. Kids can learn subjective topics, like writing, from their robotic friends. Since bots respond to users with AI and machine learning, each student has the opportunity to learn at a comfortable pace. Bots make it possible for educators to customize learning goals to fit the needs of children. Using chatbots as another tool for the classroom could redefine the way we approaching teaching.
In the US, we’ve learned that the traditional model of K-6 education isn’t always the right fit for each child’s unique needs. The rise of non-traditional schools (Portfolio, Charter, Montessori, etc.) makes it clear that, as parents, we need to selectively choose how we’ll educate our children. We can further eliminate the issues such as of personality conflicts or teaching styles that don’t always resonate with students with the introduction of bots. In fact, considering the respect and boundaries bots offer, they might be the perfect tool to raising emotionally-healthy children.
If the use of bots for tutoring and homework help catches on, the movement can also have some major environmental upsides. When you don’t need to drive your children to and from a tutoring center, you reduce your dependency on fossil fuels, improve the air quality and are likely to have more time to devote to other activities. Plus, completing work in a digital environment cuts back on paper use and the need to print.
Keep your kids safe online.
As with homework, the best monitor of a child’s internet use is their parent. But between busy work schedules and nighttime responsibilities, occasionally older children and teens have access to a device alone. That’s when a bot can be helpful—consider them a parent helper.
The online safety assistant bot, Oyoty, for instance, was created to keep kids under 12 safe while using social media. Instead of a parent hovering behind tweens as they post to Facebook or Instagram, Oyoty scans what kids post online. It flags problematic content before it’s publicly shared. Putting the onus back on the child to reflect and self-censor, Oyoty teaches kids to be more aware. The bot methodically shows children what is and isn’t appropriate content to share. Additionally, children seem to respect Oyoty’s insights—as opposed to mom or dad “nagging” them.
Oyoty’s engineers consulted a child psychologist was consulted to write the conversation scripts. The goal was to create bot technology that conditioned children to learn from mistakes.. Putting kids in charge helps to build problem-solving skills and encourages them to become more self-aware. The goal (in addition to keeping young internet users safe) is to make children aware of what they put online. It’s a didactic model that doesn’t make children feel they’re being pushed to do something. Rather, children feel as though they’re accomplishing something new.
Approaching online safety with the help of a bot also encourages the development of critical thinking skills and fosters a healthy set of social skills. In a world of cyberbullying, Oyoty also helps children learning appropriate boundaries and how to interact with peers online.
Get expert advice.
Having a friend to turn to for advice is invaluable for any parent. Someone to talk to who understands the struggles of parenthood, like tantrums, potty training woes and missed bedtimes. And, yes, there is a bot for that: introducing, Heather—the messaging bot from ParentSpark. Sometimes parents need to talk to someone who passes no judgement, who can refer them to helpful resources and information quickly.
The bot, Heather, sends parent evidence-based tips to help their children. Heather is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at any time And unlike humans, she never tires of hearing from you. Heather is also a great option for parents in limiting or isolated situations, like rural areas or expats living in a foreign country. When traditional methods of help (such as counseling or peer groups) are not available, a bot like Heather opens up possibilities.
Heather offers researched-based solutions. Not personal or anecdotal thoughts on childhood. She’s equipped with the most scientifically sound advice to vibe with socially-conscientious, progressive ideologies.
The creators of ParentSpark and Heather acknowledged that there’s no shortage of parenting advice, but wanted an easier way to remember and apply the advice. The benefits of turning to a bot for help?
Of course, no bot will ever replace human interactions and there’s no need for humankind to strive for such a world. But just like any new technology, bots have endless potential to help improve the way we interact with each other and the world. Not to mention, they’re an endless resource for parenting advice and help.
Using a bot to help with your parenting doesn’t make you an inadequate parent. Today’s parents are stretched—sometimes beyond their capabilities. While obviously it is best to be 100 percent present for your kids, it is not a bad thing to get a little extra help with that. And technology is here to stay. Using technology to enhance and expand our parenting is not only helpful, it is smart. Educating our kids about the positive benefits to technology frames their outlook upon it.