In July 2017, the loving guidance of a parent or caretaker has new competition from Aristotle, a "digital nanny" by toy-maker Mattel. The internet-connected device, which includes a microphone and camera, is designed to live in a child’s bedroom from birth and be a constant companion as she grows up. Mattel boasts Aristotle can “soothe” crying baby, help toddlers learn to speak, and facilitate learning in older children.
What is the impact on a child's development when you replace a caregiver with a robot? Mattel’s own chief products officer, Robb Fujioka, had this to say: "Honestly speaking, we just don’t know. If we’re successful, kids will form some emotional ties to this. Hopefully, it will be the right types of emotional ties.” That's a gamble we'd rather not take!
But there’s something else Aristotle will do…
Aristotle can collect and store data about a child’s activity and interactions with it, from their interests to their sleep patters. That data could be shared with those partner corporations, and used to target young children and their parents with marketing.
Kid’s bedrooms should be for growth and play, not corporate marketing and childcare experiments. Please tell Mattel CEO Margaret Georgiadis: Put the well-being and privacy of children ahead of corporate profits. Don’t sell Aristotle.