Be Aware of How You Use Technology in Small Groups

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Be Aware of How You Use Technology in Small Groups

Voice assistants have become extremely popular in many households. There are two Amazon Alexa devices that we use in my home. Not sure what I’m talking about? What about using this kind of technology in small groups?

What Are Voice Assistants?

These are devices that can:

  • Tell you the time
  • Discuss the weather
  • Set alarms
  • Add items to your grocery list
  • Play music
  • Send emails
  • and many, many more things

All of this can happen just by telling it what you want. These devices are hands free.

The device continually listens to conversations for a key phrase or name. Once it recognizes the key phrase or name, it executes the spoken command that comes next. Nothing happens if it doesn’t recognize a command.

Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant are some of the more popular technologies used for this purpose.

They are currently used with mobile and smart home devices.

What Do Voice Assistants Have to Do with Small Groups?

Voice assistants can help with researching topics or getting definitions of words. They can record lists and notes the group wants to record. Voice assistants can even be used to read Bible passages for the group.

But there is also a downside to having voice assistants active during a small group gathering. Remember, they listen to the conversations taking place. They sometimes hear conversations in other rooms. And the technology is not perfect.

As a small group leader, you want to create a safe environment. Why would voice assistants put this at risk?

The device could:

  • Interpret something said as containing the wake-up word. This could prompt it to speak. If this happened during a small group meeting, it could make members uneasy and affect the conversations in a bad way.
  • Randomly laugh in the middle of a serious conversation.
  • Record and send conversations to someone not in your small group.

Although very unlikely, there is a record of these things already happening. I don’t believe the benefits are worth the risk.

If there are voice assistant devices near your small group meeting location, I recommend you add an item to your preparation checklist to disable them while your small group is meeting. when it comes to creating a safe environment, it is best to be safe.

Question: Are voice assistants useful to you? What is your opinion about them being active during a small group meeting? 

This article originally appeared here.

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Roger Carr
Hi, my name is Roger Carr. I am a husband, father, Christian, business person, writer, and volunteer. I have participated in and led several small groups over the past 30+ years. These small groups included those in churches, work settings, professional organizations, and nonprofit organizations. I am currently coaching small group leaders and serving on the writing team at my local church, supporting small groups weekly.

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