Having ‘the talk’ with your kids in today’s world. About today’s world.

Is it time to have ‘the talk’ with your kids? I know … you’re nervous. Your parents never had ‘the talk’ with you and you turned out just fine.
But now, today, it’s harder than ever for kids to avoid it … and there is so much information out there right now. In fact, they’ve probably taken it upon themselves to learn on their own.
Of course, I’m referring to … talking to your kids about artificial intelligence.
We are living in such an interesting time. We never had to worry about how our kids interacted with artificial intelligence, but now we do. There is a fascinating debate raging around us as people aren’t sure – should my child be nice to Alexa (or whatever voice assistant you have in your home)? Should I talk to my child about the questions you do – and don’t – ask it?
This hit home for me personally as I was doing my weekly check on Alexa’s activity. The normal stuff – (crappy) weather reports in Kent, Ohio; add cat litter to the shopping list; play “The Lego Movie 2” soundtrack; what do you do if your friend is upset. Wait. What?
Yep, my nine-year-old daughter, who apparently wasn’t satisfied with our advice on helping an upset friend, decided to ask Alexa for her take.
My wife and I wanted to downplay it because honestly this question was tucked between “Alexa, who is your favorite superhero?” and “Alexa, do you like Siri?” – normal stuff for my daughter to ask. We told her that if you have an issue or want to talk about something further to bring it to us or ask us – not a home assistant.
But stop and think about that. Did you think you’d have to talk to your kids about AI? In what chapter of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” do they cover that?
I mentioned earlier that people are debating ‘how’ you should talk to Alexa, as in, do you say please and thank you? The pro argument – of course you do, you should always be polite – isn’t as interesting as the anti-argument – No! It’s not real! But these are what people are torn between. They didn’t cover that on “Full House,” although Uncle Jesse teaching Michelle how to talk to Alexa would’ve been pretty good. (Or maybe Aunt Becky could’ve asked “Alexa, how can I help DJ get a rowing scholarship at USC?”)
I love the graphic novel ‘The Watchmen’. One of my favorite lines “Who watches the watchmen”’ can be applied to so many things in life. While we watch all of this technology become part of our everyday life, we have to appreciate that this is the first time we’re seeing it. We don’t have a blueprint on how to act.
I’ve written a lot over the years about how, regardless of the new idea or trend, we as communicators have a responsibility to help companies learn how to educate their public. While everyone is watching this new tech, communicators can help brands navigate what they know … and what they don’t know.
Can we predict and manage every aspect of how people interact with devices like Alexa? No, of course not. But we can help make it easier for brands to educate consumers on all aspects of their device. It beats having to ask Alexa to do it.