We all know the risks of mixing too much technology into our kids’ lives. It seems like every corner of the internet is filled with articles about how our children are exposed too early to screens and tech, and how the repercussions of these consequential contacts could be monumental.
I, too, have seen the negative effects of exposing children to technology too early. I’ve encountered behavior that may take months to reverse, if it’s possible at all. And after much consideration, I know now it was a mistake to let my toddler learn how to interact with our robot roommate, Alexa.
“Alexa, play poop,” the toddler said one day. “Play a poop poop song!”
He cackled maniacally, but for a brief moment I assumed this 3–year–old’s version of a fiendish plot would go nowhere. Alexa—mature, sophisticated Alexa—would say she can’t play “poop,” because it’s a bodily function. And besides, what kind of monster would create a “poop” song accessible by a robot? Surely no professional musician would…but I was wrong.
That day we discovered no less than five “poop” songs. And as we finished up our bedtime routine, I heard him humming the fifth poop song while he brushed his teeth. The worst part was, I found myself humming along with him.
I can’t help but think if we’d done something different—if we’d bought a robot named Benedict Cumberbatch—we wouldn’t be where we are today. My days wouldn’t be filled with “poopy” earworms as potent as an extreme mashup of the Chili’s “Baby Back Rib” song and a car dealership’s radio jingle.
Let my life be a lesson to you all: preserve your child’s innocence and your sanity; unplug the Alexa. Just turn the lights off gently, and we’ll all be better for it.
By Carrie Taylor a freelance writer, editor and mother of two boys.