A team from the University of Cambridge said that children can view social robots as beings with their own rights and feelings, despite being aware of the machine status.

This is exacerbated by the way they interact with the devices through the use of wake commands such as “Hey Google” or “Hi Alexa”, which increases the risk that children over-anthropomorphise digital devices.

However, there is no expectation that polite terms, such as “please” or “thank you”, should be used during these interactions and there is no need to consider the tone of voice and whether the command being issued may be interpreted as rude or obnoxious.

The inability of smart speakers to offer children constructive feedback if their speech is considered rude or inappropriate could normalise negative social interactions during child development, the researchers suggested.

They pointed out that Amazon has made some initial moves to counter this through the use of its optional ‘Magic...