A dad in Los Angeles recently posted a video on Reddit showing that your Google Home can be used in more wholesome ways that you might think.
Patrick Crispen, A+ dad and assistant professor of clinical medical education at Keck School of Medicine of USC, recorded his 19-month-old son, who is in speech/language therapy due to “significant receptive and expressive language deficits,” saying his first and only word while their Google Home replicates animal sounds?
The word? “Google.”
Prior to the assistance from their Google Home, Crispen said of his son, “Put simply, he doesn’t speak. At all. Zero words.”
He later said,
We’ve had a Google Home since last holiday season, and my son absolutely adores its animal sounds. So, you can imagine our pleasure and surprise when my son started doing this this weekend. That’s right: My son’s first (and currently only) word is ‘Google.’
Crispen told Mashable that his son was immediately drawn to the Google Home upon he and his wife purchasing it during the holiday season last year, specifically because of its ability to play animal noises. He said,
So that has now become an almost daily game that we play with him. (Us: ‘Okay, Google … what sound does a horse make?’ Him: [excited giggling]). Oddly, Google Home’s nursery rhymes make him cry.
Crispen and his wife were ecstatic to hear their son’s first word, as his language capabilities were developing slower than is typically the case in children his age.
Typically, by the time a toddler reaches 18 months of age, he or she has a vocabulary of at least 10 to 15 words. Our son’s vocabulary was literally zero. Hence the concern.
Of course, people on Reddit were being cynical and debating about whether or not the video was a bullshit PR stunt, because that’s just how the internet works. Crispen responded by saying,
I don’t blame you for being cynical. But, as the goofy guy chomping on breadsticks in the back of the video, I can assure you this video and its story are completely true and uncompensated. I just thought people would enjoy the story as much as my wife and I did.
To boot, people on Reddit were also skeptical of the fact that the boy’s first word was “Google” and that Crispen was failing as a parent for allowing technology to teach his son what he should have been teaching him himself, because obviously everyone on the internet is an expert on speech pathology.
On this matter, Crispen said,
I think like any technology, its effectiveness comes from how it is being used and for what purpose. If you watch the video, you don’t see a kid plopped down in front of a computer screen mindlessly watching videos. Rather, you’ll see a mother and a son interacting with each other and with Google Home to generate animal sounds.
While he did concede that he understands why some people might find it a little disturbing, Crispen stands by the progress that the Google Home helped bring about in his child’s speech development.
A child’s first word is the name of a giant, multinational corporation? To some, that’s understandably depressing. But if you look at what’s happening in the video, what you see is not a child going ‘hail corporate’ but rather a mother and son playing together with technology for fun and hopefully some learning. To me, any tool or activity that demonstrably promotes verbal language development in a language-delayed toddler is, by definition, neither dystopian nor disturbing.
Thankfully, others on Reddit were more supportive.
Honestly, I think it’s a great thing that Crispen and his wife were able to use technology to help their son in the process of overcoming a speech and language deficiency. So what if their son’s first word was “Google?” Had this not have happened, he might still not be speaking at all.
Don’t pay attention to those haters on Reddit, Patrick, you’re doing a great thing.