Parents Outraged As Children Named Alexa Receive ‘Relentless’ Bullying Because Of Amazon
Children named Alexa are reportedly being bullied for sharing the same name as Amazon’s virtual assistant.
Amazon’s Alexa debuted in 2014 and by early 2019 ended up in the homes of more than 100 million people.
The name for babies increased in popularity in 2015 and was the 32nd most popular girl’s name in the US, but this eventually moved down to 139th place in 2019, thought to be down to Amazon’s AI technology.
However, while not as many people are naming their daughters Alexa, those who were given the name at the peak of its popularity are now being subject to bullying because of its association with the household virtual assistant. Parents are describing the bullying as ‘relentless’ for their kids.
In a bid to tackle the bullying, some parents have gone as far as renaming their child. One mum named Heather* told BBC News that the bullying was weighing on her daughter’s mental health, therefore they decided to change her name.
She told the news outlet:
She started to not want to introduce herself because of the jokes and the backlash. She was and still is a child, yet adults thought it was OK to make a joke of her. It’s devastating. The school was unhelpful and told her she needed to build resilience.
Heather has since changed her daughter’s name and enrolled her in a new school. As a result, she is in a ‘much better place’. The mother added, ‘The injustice will never leave her, or us. Amazon must change the default wake word on its devices. There was clearly not enough ethical research into using Alexa.’
Another parent, Charlotte*, has also found her daughter named Alexa has been a victim of bullying at school. She told BBC, ‘It started in Reception. Older children would say things like ‘Alexa, play disco’. Other boys picked up on it and shouted commands at her.’
‘We were at the park the other day and every single boy there was saying it to her constantly. She’s started clamming up. I think it’s affecting her confidence. Adults make fun of her too,’ Charlotte continued.
In response to these parents’ concerns, Amazon issued a statement that read, ‘We designed our voice assistant to reflect qualities we value in people – being smart, considerate, empathetic, and inclusive. We’re saddened by the experiences you’ve shared, and want to be very clear: bullying of any kind is unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.’
Apparently, you’re able to change the name your Amazon devices respond to, but this isn’t widely advertised by the tech giant.
*Names have been changed.
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