Did you know, children can experience peer pressure from robots?

Peer pressure is a common occurrence in virtually every schoolyard. As children try to find their individuality, it is often difficult to resist following their peers.

But, it seems that peer pressure isn’t only applied by humans. Did you know, children may be especially vulnerable to peer pressure from robots?

According to a new study by Bielefeld University researcher, Anna-Lisa Vollmer, published in Science Robotics, social robots can convince children to veer off the straight and narrow. This is a rather scary thought. Especially with children spending so much time behind the screen of a cellphone or computer.

But, how did the test work?

Participants in the test were requested to match a set of vertical lines by size on a computer screen.

A group of 43 children, between the ages of seven and nine, participated in the test. Some of the children formed a control group, where they completed the test by themselves. Whereas the other children did so with the assistance of robots.

A group of adults also undertook the same test, under very similar circumstances.

The purpose of the task was to determine whether children and their adult counterparts are able to resist the pressure of giving the wrong answer, when the answer is supplied by a robot.

While adults were able to resist the robots’ advice, a staggering 75 per cent of the children caved and followed the robots’ advice.

How is this possible?

Dr Mandie Shean, a specialist in education and child resilience, explains that modern day children have grown up with robots. Therefore, they are less likely to resist the machine’s advice. Whereas, adults have more confidence in themselves.

Furthermore, Anna-Lisa Vollmer explains that rather than seeing the robot as a machine, children may see it as a social character.

How does this affect us in the long run?

Considering how much time children spend on computers and with technology, it is advised to encourage children to develop a critical mindset. This will help ensure they do not believe everything that comes up on a computer screen.

No longer do you have to worry about your child falling victim to peer pressure among their friends. Now, you need to worry about robots influencing your child as well.

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