We are a family of three, however about a year ago, we added a member to our family. No, we did not have a baby nor did we adopt a pet. This new family member has a name and it is “Alexa.” By now, a lot of people know “Alexa;” however, if you do not, she is approximately 2 inches in height, 2 inches in diameter and circular in shape. “She” is a cloud-based voice service.
My husband loves technology. I do not. I continue to do things the hard way (as he would say). Convincing myself it is easier to do things the way I have always done them. Over the past few years, we have added a car that has remote start, a thermostat that detects when we are near home and adjusts the temperature, and light bulbs that have to be adjusted by a smartphone. So when “Alexa” was brought into our house, I resisted (and maybe even rolled my eyes)! But over time, I have to admit, I have begun to embrace her. At first, it was the little things. I found myself asking the measurements for a recipe or who sings a certain song. Then, I started having her add things to my calendar or set reminders for me.
Recently, I realized the biggest reason I changed my position on this little piece of technology is the impact it has on our 6-year-old son. Ironically, a piece of technology has helped him become more independent. I know there is controversy about kids having too much technology and I do not disagree. However, when it is used for their betterment and does not replace their ability to research information or entertain themselves, then it can be very good. There are hundreds of ways “Alexa” can be used to entertain children, I have created my top 5.
- Weather Forecast. Since Atlanta weather changes daily, my son asks her the weather every morning. Depending on what the weather is, he knows what type of outerwear he needs for the day, therefore, allowing for one less statement from us in the morning.
- Sports Update. He is a sports fanatic but often has to go to bed before most games end. He will ask her who won the game eliminating our need to look it up for him (or try to remember because I have a hard enough time remembering hour to hour much less the score of a game that happened 12 hours earlier).
- Games. There are many games she can play which is very entertaining. One of his favorites is Akinator. For this game, you choose a character without telling her. She will ask yes or no questions (think 20 questions) and try to guess your character. The majority of the time, she is able to guess our character! Another favorite is Where in the World. This learning game involves capital cities. There are a multitude of other games including Bingo and Tic-Tac-Toe.
- Music. She will turn on any music requested. He asks for “KidzBop” often. We have noticed in the cooler months he likes to get his “energy” out by having a dance party (and by party I mean party of 1 because he does not like it when we do our dancing!). I will take this over him sitting still and watching tv.
- Jokes. She tells him jokes and they are usually pretty funny to a child. We all benefit from this one. He laughs and there is not a whole lot sweeter than listening to my child produce sounds of happiness!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want technology to replace ability. Even though I do resist technology, I will admit “Alexa” has made my life easier in terms of being an entertainer, an assistant, and helping my child add one more level of independence. Anything that makes life easier and saves time, this momma will embrace it all day long!