“Siri, how many sides does a pentagon have?” “Alexa, what’s 3 plus 2?”
With virtual aids such as Alexa and Siri becoming more common in households and more accessible in smart phones, how are children’s learning experiences being affected?
In a viral video, a kid uses Alexa to solve a homework problem. This raises the question: are virtual aids stripping children of their problem-solving skills? Experts say that like anything, moderation is key.
There is nothing wrong with using Google to spellcheck, yet Diane Levin, a professor of applied human development at Boston University, says that it’s crucial for kids to learn to struggle through challenging problems.
It’s important for kids to develop the patience that problem solving takes. Problem solving is a vital skill that kids will need repeatedly throughout their lives, so it is imperative that they develop it in their childhood. Kids who do not develop the patience and persistence to solve problems on their own, grow up to avoid issues they cannot solve. This leads to kids dropping out of school or struggling to maintain relationships and friendships.
Parents can help their kids develop problem solving skills by:
- Encouraging creative play.
- Allowing them to experience failure.
- Intentionally ask the for help with your own problems.
- Making them explain their homework answers to you.
- Praising creative solutions.
Virtual Aids are not the enemy, but parents should be aware of how their kids are using them. Parents should explain to their kids why it is not smart to have Siri or Alexa or Google just give them the answers to their homework. Let kids struggle, be supportive, but don’t rush to their aid. Be aware that parents, too, can easily, unconsciously turn into the Alexa of their household.