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As times have changed, the modes of parenting have changed too. If you remember the way you were brought up, you would understand the parenting techniques prevalent today are extremely different from what it was decades ago. In many ways, parenting has become easier today, thanks to modern technology. However, there are some pitfalls that come with the technological advancements too.
Home assistants are now gaining traction all over the world, partly because of the uses and benefits it has and partly because they have become fashionable. Almost every tech giant has a home assistant – Amazon Echo and Google Home are examples of that. These have also improved parenting in many ways, but there are also some downsides to depending too much on home assistants. Let us take a look at how smart assistants can help in parenting.
What Is a Home Assistant?
A digital home assistant is defined as an electronic device which responds to voice commands and does things for the user like answer questions when asked. Most home assistants also have the capability to control and network with other home appliances, which mean that you can carry out a lot of tasks by simply saying commands to the home assistant. Things like opening automatic doors, switching the lights on and off and controlling the thermostat can commonly be integrated with the home assistant. Such home assistants are usually the size of a large candle, battery powered and are equipped with a speaker and a microphone for ease of use.
Home assistants are always connected to the internet and work in tandem with a virtual assistant. The Amazon Echo has Alexa, Apple Home has Siri and so on. They are activated if the user says a key phrase, like “OK Google” or “Hey Siri”.
With voice commands, you can ask the assistant pretty much anything you want to know. These questions may range from traffic conditions to random facts you want to know. Coming to parenting, home assistants can be useful to you in a range of ways too.
What Are the Benefits of a Home Assistant?
There are a lot of benefits to owning a home assistant, some of which have been detailed below.
1. Voice Commands
You can activate and control the home assistant with your voice, which makes it really useful when you are doing other things.
The home assistant can be integrated with other devices at home, and it can be the brain behind automating your entire home.
Many home assistants can do a lot more than simply playing music. For example, you can order, you can ask any question about the world, you can ask for weather details. Basically, it will make your life convenient.
Depending on the device, you can start communicating with your near and dear ones through the home assistant. Some home assistants even have a video screen, through which you can initiate video calls in order to contact people.
If you have synced the home assistant with your handheld devices, you can ensure that you have a virtual assistant at your home at all times. Never forget an appointment again, for example – you can always tell the home assistant to add the appointment to your calendar when you remember it so that it does not slip out of your mind again.
What Parents Need to Know Before Buying a Home Assistant?
Before jumping in and going for a home assistant, there are some things that parents must know before buying a home assistant.
1. Hidden Costs
Most of the skills and actions that you can add to the home assistant you have are free to use, but some of them will require some expenditure on your part. Therefore, you must be aware of these issues before getting a home assistant. Also, be aware that some of the new features are more expensive to add on compared to the basic model.
2. Unauthorised Purchases
Ensure that your children know that they have to ask your permission before adding stuff onto the shopping list – else, you will be in for an expensive surprise. You can add a PIN to shopping using a home assistant, but these are undermined simply if your children find out what the PIN is. Keep the ‘pay option’ with your assistant feature off if you are afraid that your children will buy whatever they want.
3. Social Risks
Interacting with AI has been observed to have some ill effects on the development of children. Children need to understand that interacting with an AI assistant is nothing like socializing from an early age. An AI would not mind someone being rude to it, but any living human being is sure to mind.
4. Creepy Drop-Ins
Some assistants have a drop-in feature, which means that a person can drop in and listen into another room where the assistant has been placed without any consent from the people in the room. Therefore, if you have this feature enabled, be ready for some accidental eavesdropping to occur.
The privacy of home assistants are extremely complex and an evolving issue. Once you buy these assistants, the assumption is that you have understood the privacy risks of online life. Most home assistants are owned by the same companies that track your online activity and your shopping patterns, and a home assistant only makes it easier for them to understand your behavioural patterns at home. Know that no company is extremely and fully transparent about how they use the data they have been gathering, so accept the risks if you are opting for a home assistant.
How Home Assistants Can Help Parents
These are the many ways in which home assistants can help when it comes to parenting. Here’s how a home assistant will make your life easier.
1. You Can Create a Quick List
With a home assistant, you can create a quick list and keep adding the items as and when you remember. This is a huge load taken from your mind, as you do not have to worry about forgetting anything ever again. Shopping lists are a breeze, and you can shop quickly with your baby.
2. Set Reminders with Any.do
You can have a to-do list with your home assistant, and this can be life-saving at times. Be it your vaccination appointment for the child or a play-date; you can add anything and everything to this list and have the home assistant remind you at the time.
3. Life Hacks
If you find yourself having trouble doing something and need help, you can always ask your home assistant to open Life Hacks. You can start being creative with the task at hand and carry it out with ease.
4. Tell Stories
Reading to your kid will be easy with home assistants. Just ask the home assistant to open ‘storytime’, and the assistant will start reading out stories to your child.
5. Keep Your Child Engaged
If you find your child craving your attention, but you have other things to attend to, you can always keep him engaged using a home assistant as an alternative. Your child can interact with it and play games and do so much more to pass the time.
6. Tell a Fun Story
The creative pressure that comes with being a parent is one of the most difficult things to manage at times. You can never seem to make your child happy with the stories that you narrate them every alternate day, but a Home assistant can come to your rescue at times like these. The device can launch into creative tales when prompted to tell a story, and it can be a lifesaver at times.
7. Set Timers and Reminders
As a parent, you have many responsibilities and there will be times when you will forget things. You will be busy with your children so much that you may find yourself forgetting about a lot of stuff that you should have remembered. With this feature, you can always set reminders for actions that you have to do or timers to remind you that time is running out at some point or other.
8. Play Kid-friendly Music
If you ever find yourself wanting to start an impromptu dance party, you can always as your home assistant to play kid-friendly music. The home assistant will play kid-friendly music for your children to dance listening to, and even have cool background music for the actions they do.
9. Wake Up Clock
At some point or other, every parent must have wished that their child stayed in bed for a longer time. With Wake Up Clock, you can set a time as an answer to when your child asks whether it is time to wake up for him.
10. Random Noises
A cool feature of the home assistants is that they can make random noises if you ask them to, and this can serve as a distraction for your toddler when they are having a meltdown. Simply ask the assistant to play elephant sound or monkey sound, and your child will get distracted and will be happy instantly.
11. Answer Obscure Questions
Most parents would know that children start asking weird questions from a particular age, and people would normally not know the answer to these. Well, home assistants are just the cure to this curiosity – any question can be asked to it, to get a factual answer. Even questions like what colour the sweat of a rhino is will have an answer if asked to a home assistant.
12. Ask About the Weather
Urging your child to take an umbrella or raincoat to a school can get tiring. Your child may refuse and you may argue. With home assistants, children can simply ask the assistant about the weather forecast for the day, and dress up accordingly. This can save time and prevent arguments.
Most of the home assistants come with a number of child-friendly games that you can use when your child gets bored. Games include ones like Disney Princess and Talk Like A Chef, and What’s Your Inner Animal and the likes. Your child is sure to remain entertained for a long time with these games.
14. Cut Down on Yelling
The same drop-in feature mentioned above can be used in a home to cut-down on yelling, which is an extremely difficult thing to do in big houses. You can communicate with your children in different rooms with ease, with this feature – this not only makes it more convenient but also improves the relationship between the parents and the children most times.
15. Turn Off the Lights
Your little child may not be able to reach all of the light switches in the home. Parents usually find themselves having to get up in the middle of the night just to switch on a light for their children, or if the child gets afraid of the dark in the dead of night. With the help of Home Assistant’s integration services, these issues will be taken care of. Children will then be able to get up in the middle of the night, walk to the toilet to pee and come back to sleep without any help from the parents. You can also turn off the lights in other rooms from any room, so it saves a lot of hassle if you have forgetful children.
Getting a smart assistant voice-controlled device can help save a lot of hassle for parents, and ultimately becomes useful in saving a lot of time. There are some downsides to this too – you must definitely keep those in mind before you jump in and buy a smart assistant. Ensure that your finances and privacy are not compromised and that the child does not grow up being dependent on a virtual assistant if you choose to get one of these magic assistants.