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University of Washington

How Alexa can help families during the COVID-19 pandemic

4-May-2020 8:05 AM EDT, by University of Washington

For families who have dedicated voice assistants, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, here are some strategies parents can use to help balance remote life and childcare during these times of social distancing and sheltering in place.

University of Washington researcher Erin Beneteau was the lead author on a project that investigated how families adopt and use smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo Dot, at home. One surprising finding was that families were unaware of many of the child-friendly features on their devices.

In a blog post for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Beneteau, who is a speech-language pathologist and a doctoral student in the UW Information School, shares some suggestions based on the team's research findings that might help families who own smart speakers navigate these challenging times.

Beneteau's suggestions include using a smart speaker to:

  • Complement and augment parenting goals
  • Communicate with loved ones
  • Find games and activities that children can independently engage in

More about Beneteau: Her primary areas of clinical practice include working with preschool age children, as well as working with people of all ages who use assistive technologies for communication. She has practiced in the United States, New Zealand and Ireland as a speech-language pathologist, and she has also worked in the technology industry as an instructional designer. Her recent research on family interactions with the Amazon Echo Dot has been an exciting way to blend her interests in technology and human communication. 




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