Should Babies Learn Alexa’s Name Before Mama’s?

Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.

51ciPnzyhQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.

Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.

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Look Forward to Hearing Bill Gates and Dr. John Medina Present

Image from Dr. Medina’s website.

I am attending a conference, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), in Seattle, WA and especially looking forward to hearing two speakers.

Bill Gates will present on Thursday morning, just a couple of days after India was declared a polio-free country. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with many other public health experts, worked hard to achieve this goal. Thought Gates will speak on education at NAIS, I hope he at least mentions this dramatic public health achievement.

I will also look forward to hearing how he believes schools should expand their visions on education.

Dr. John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, will also be speaking. Dr. Medina speaks fast and animatedly, and I’ve heard him speak two times. Here’s a MediaTechParenting post, Multitasking is a Myth, that I wrote some time ago after hearing Medina deliver a lecture and reading his book, Brain Rules.

Multi-tasking is a Myth, Researcher John Medina Maintains

Many of us may need to rearrange the way we work, reconsider our understanding of multi-tasking, and rethink how we supervise our children during homework time. According to Professor John Medina, the brain cannot multitask efficiently.

Dr. Medina, a respected molecular biologist who teaches at the University of Washington, published Brain Rules in 2008, and his book spent many weeks on the New York Times best seller list. In this entertaining read he discusses 12 important brain rules with one chapter devoted to multitasking. Addressing the widely accepted view that in the digital age we all multi-task effectively, Dr. Medina explains why the brain has trouble with multi-tasking and why this practice can cause trouble for learners, workers, and especially for pre-teens and adolescents. Many entertaining video explanations of the 12 brain rules are posted at his website. Continue reading