Are Robot Reading Partners a Good Idea for Kids?
We’re in a new decade, and luckily robots have yet to take over the world. Unlike what the Jetsons predicted, there are no flying cars but Rosie the robot maid? You could say that inspired the creation of Roomba, a dream come true for many who despise house chores. The advancement in robotics engineering is hard to ignore, especially when Alexa is in the background helping you with your shopping list and turning on the kitchen lights at your command.
Society is always looking for the next big development in robotics to make our lives easier. But a reading robot? They do exist and that may or may not be a good thing, especially for children.
Robots are reading MILLIONS of books
The University of Copenhagen was curious about which adjectives do books use for men versus women. Rather than reading an entire library themselves, they engineered a robot to do the reading for them. The robot read 3.5 million books published from 1900 to 2008. The results showed that books followed gender stereotypes. Female adjectives were more about describing their bodies, while male adjectives described their virtues.
Reading robots for kids
There are a few AI reading robots that are on the market, and some are still in their beta stage. The Chinese technology company Ling created Luka, the reading robot. Lucka will read picture books to children in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Over here in the states at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, they’ve built Minnie, a robot reading partner. Minnie’s job is to accompany middle school kids when they’re at home on their own. Joseph Michaelis, a UW–Madison grad student says, “Research shows that social learning — pairing up with a peer to complete math problems or read a chapter in a textbook — is a powerful way to help students develop skills and interests.” Those who argue against the idea of Minnie say that this type of “companion” can affect a child’s social skills.
One could also say that AI reading robots are no different than listening to an audiobook. Children should start learning how to recognize words on a page, so the brain can begin gearing up to learn how to process language. Sorry Anki Vector the Story Time Reading Robot, maybe later you’ll be a fun toy to enjoy. And that’s just it. Parents should recognize that these robots are toys.
Children reading with adults versus robots
Nothing can replace the time parents spend reading to their little ones. Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, studied the correlation between reading aloud with your child and their behavior. Dr. Mendelsohn told The New York Times, “When parents read with their children more . . . they learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.” AI reading robots like Luka or Minnie are cute companions to join you at storytime. Having a robot in the room can entice a child to learn to love books.
You probably won’t be reading 3.5 million books anytime soon, but in the case that you do need to read a lot of material at once, you can do so by learning how to speed read. Our courses offer more than reading techniques. They also help with comprehension, productivity, and memory. Learn more today and see how you too can read more in less time.