While investors pressure Apple to address youth phone addiction, experts are more optimistic about the voice-enabled smart speakers that Google and Amazon want to plunk into your living room.
At their most ambitious, Amazon's Echo and Google's Home devices are meant to transform the way you manage your life and control your home, using artificial intelligence to put an ever-increasing range of capabilities at your command. But at their most basic, they simply allow you to spend less time tapping away on a screen. And as Apple's current scrutiny underscores, that can be particularly important when it comes to kids.
Solace Shen, a researcher at Cornell who has studied children's interactions with intelligent technology, says she sees a big opportunity for educational and entertainment content on these devices that doesn't suck kids in in the same way that a smartphone would.
"Playing a game with an adult or another child using a voice-enabled device, you're not focused on a screen, so the interaction encourages you to look at each other and pay attention to each other," Shen explains. "That's a unique advantage of these voice enabled systems. If they're designed right, they can be unobtrusive, but speak up when needed."