Should Kids Say Please and Thank You to Alexa?


We recently took the plunge and made our cozy flat into an official Smart Home. Alexa is my new BFF. She keeps me efficient, reminding me to buy toilet paper, and buying it for me too. She wakes me up in the morning and lets me know what kind of weather to prepare for. I’m hoping that one day she’ll turn my coffee on too, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m writing this post because an interesting question came up shortly after Alexa joined our home.  

Should kids use good manners when speaking to a robot? Were we going to enforce the use of the “magic word” when our 3-and-a-half-year-old directed a request at the Echo Dot?

It sounds a little like a joke, but it required some serious contemplation. 

Here’s where our thought process led us:

Alexa is a robot. NOT a human. We wouldn’t have our daughter say please and thank you to a gumball machine, so maybe we shouldn’t require it in this case either. This is where our conversation got really deep because, do young children understand the difference between a human and a machine? In the age of Artificial Intelligence, do we have the moral responsibility to teach this to them?

On the other hand, good manners are an important habit. After all, we do not allow our daughter to play in a violent way with her stuffed animals, because we feel that type of behavior translates into how children treat real people and animals. Following that logic, should we have her use polite language with Alexa? 

In the end, we decided not to make any rules or explicitly encourage our preschooler to say words like “please” and “thank you” to Alexa. However, we make an effort to model polite language and a respectful tone. At the very least, we are not rude.   

It would be great if our kid didn’t talk to Alexa at all, though, because today I found a Lego set in my Amazon cart that I certainly did not put there. I wonder if Alexa said, “You’re welcome.”


  1. Such a confusing thought! I like your comparison to a gumball machine. I’m sure in another generation there will be social norms to follow. How interesting that we are setting those norms! Fun read, thanks.


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