Do robotic tutors compromise the social-emotional development of children?

Authors Matthijs Smakman, Elly A. Konijn, Paul Vogt
Published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI
Publication date 2022
Research groups Digital Ethics
Type Article


Social robots are reported to hold great potential for education. However, both scholars and key stakeholders worry about children’s social-emotional development being compromised. In aiming to provide new insights into the impact that social robots can have on the social-emotional development of children, the current study interviewed teachers who use social robots in their day-to-day educational practice. The results of our interviews with these experienced teachers indicate that the social robots currently used in education pose little threat to the social-emotional development of children. Children with special needs seem to be more sensitive to social-affective bonding with a robot compared to regular children. This bond seems to have positive effects in enabling them to more easily connect with their human peers and teachers. However, when robots are being introduced more regularly, daily, without the involvement of a human teacher, new issues could arise. For now, given the current state of technology and the way social robots are being applied, other (ethical) issues seem to be more urgent, such as privacy, security and the workload of teachers. Future studies should focus on these issues first, to ensure a safe and effective educational environment for both children and teachers.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI
Key words social robots, education, social-emotional development
Digital Object Identifier 10.3389/frobt.2022.734955

Matthijs Smakman

Professor Matthijs Smakman

Matthijs Smakman

  • Professor
  • Research group: Smart Systems for Healthy Living