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Art by Haejin Park.
Art by Haejin Park.

Dear Parentverse: My Four-Year-Old Trusts Amazon’s Alexa More Than Me

Plus: What to do when your teen tells you he’s a Doomer.

Feb. 4, 2022 12:00 PM PST

This is Parentverse, The Information Weekend’s advice column for tech-savvy parents. Email us your questions at [email protected]. Or, if you don’t mind sharing them with your fellow subscribers, post them in the comments below.

Dear Parentverse: My four-year-old daughter asks Alexa everything—I mean everything. I thought it was cute at first, but it’s starting to bother me. She’ll ask me something—like “When is grandma coming to visit?”—and then she’ll double-check my answer with Alexa. It’s as though she trusts the machine more than me. I am annoyed, but I can’t decide if this is actually a problem.

It is kind of cute, albeit in a dystopian way. Your daughter’s behavior is a natural outgrowth of hearing adults ask robots questions, and deferring to entities like “Siri,” “the internet” or “Google” for answers. The problem is that your 4-year-old is already developing a dependence on an algorithm before she’s even reached kindergarten. Who should she trust more: her mother, or a disembodied artificial intelligence owned by a megacorporation?

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