How African-American and Latinx Youth Evaluate Their Experiences with Digital Assistants


As artificial intelligence (AI)‐driven devices play an increasingly important role in children’s lives, there is a need for research that considers how socioeconomic and cultural differences shape children’s engagement with AI. It is important to ensure that these technologies are designed to be culturally inclusive, especially in relation to youth from groups underrepresented in STEM.  

This project examined how these children understand, interact with, and evaluate AI-driven digital assistants (DAs). It reports research conducted with Black and Latinx children (aged 8-12) with their parents/guardians exploring how they use and understand DAs.  


The study design includes two iterations of instrument design, deployment, and evaluation. The first approach, narrative interviews, uncovered the role played by the devices in the participants’ everyday lives but obscured the actual interactions with the device. The second approach, observational interviews, exposed reasoning about the device and what it is doing but tended to obscure aspects of family history and culture due to device-level frictions, especially where the devices did not always behave as expected during the interviews.  


Three key themes emerged from these interviews (usability, privacy, and digital literacy) and the research team identified approaches for eliciting feedback about AI and racial equity, including how online data collection can be undertaken during a pandemic. The project concluded that future research is needed to ensure that DAs are aligned with the values of youth from underrepresented populations and explored potential future steps for engaging youth in the process of developing more equitable technology. 


Team Members

Stephen Slota
School of Information