We launched our new blog to talk about the new robotic companions that are gradually being introduced into our homes and schools: social robots. But, in addition to being a cool and eye-catching device, what practical uses have for children? What benefits do they bring them?
At Aisoy we have a mission as a company: to create affective robotic companions that entertain us, bring us joy and help us to improve our skills and knowledge. In particular, social and emotional robots for children that provide them with a playful experience and stimulate both play and learning.
Many people ask us, but why robots when there are millions of apps? And why emotional? Something intrinsically human… And they are right in asking those questions.
Creating robots is a very complex and interdisciplinary task. Creating affective robots is even more so. So the simplest thing would be to agree with them and not complicate our lives. But, there is something about robots that has always attracted us, children and adults. Something moves inside us when we see one. Yeah, but that’s not a clear answer. So why do we do it?
Emotional regulation or self-regulation is our ability to monitor and control the emotions we feel and express. As adults, we manage positive and negative emotions on a daily basis with the tools that we have learned throughout our lives. And, more times than we recognize, our response is not always modulated as we would like.
In the case of children, they must manage that same flow of emotions daily with the handicap that they do not have the experience or have learned the tools that adults do, better or worse, it depends on each one.
A consequence of this lack of resources in children is tantrums or frustration, which in turn often produces frustration or even anger in older adults. They need to incorporate resources to their knowledge that include, among others, the possibility of:
Learning these skills can be particularly difficult for some children with special needs.
Children who have developed good emotional regulation skills have been shown to gain the following benefits in childhood and are sustained into adulthood:
It seems clear that emotions contribute to well-being and learning.
Who has said that? Robots cannot be substitute of people on inherently human issues no matter how social robots are. But that does not mean that they cannot help us in our things and in our circumstances.
Therefore, the question would be why robots as a tool to help people?
On one hand, there is something in our mind that is activated when we see that something artificial moves by itself. We may even feel sad or happy when they fail or success. It is a different sensation, deeper and more lasting than the ‘flow’ you feel when playing a video game.
On the other, there is some controversy about the benefit or harm of increasing the use of screens and social networks (new generations use 4 hours on average daily). The reality is that, whether or not the screens, there are studies that show that current generation has more problems with their social, emotional and communication skills than the previous ones, causing them a higher level of anxiety, in some cases leading to depression. While we learn to manage the immediacy of digital, robots give us a slower and more reflective learning process, acting as a counterweight.
And, finally, social robots offer a more realistic experience (it is a tangible body that moves autonomously), flexible and adapted to our non-digital reality (thanks to its artificial intelligence it can learn and evolve) which is where our mind works. They offer a living together experience.
Robots like Aisoy EMO help develop social and emotional skills in a fun, playful way and with a reliable partner. It is easier for children to learn it with our robots due to their soft and expressive body characteristics. The child experiences how a real partner reacts and responds (more credible than a digital being) without feeling self-conscious (as happens on many occasions with people).
Every day, Aisoy is interested in how the day went and how they have felt. Aisoy can give and work with examples to help then. All this with empathy and trying to create an environment of trust.
Finally, the activities that Aisoy proposes help them to speak and work on self-regulation of difficult feelings such as anxiety, frustration, anger, etc. but also others such as programming skills.
They are social robots that interact with us as we do and also motivate us to learn by talking and playing.
In our humble opinion, social robots are a tool of an age where there is a predominance of digital and immediacy. Social robots have not come to replace anyone. They have not come to do a physical task like vacuuming the floor. They haven’t come to iron, or do laundry, or even to do homework for the children. Social robots have come to bring us joy, help us maintain a level of social-emotional well-being in the world where our minds live. They have come to live with us offering us a different experience that until now we could only imagine or see in the movies. No, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and yet it can be a lot. Think about it.