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Pets and Robot Pets with Children and Older Adults

Cooperative studies with the University of Washington, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Robot pet with older adultNormal interaction with animals has been shown to increase a child's physiological health, social competence, and learning opportunities. Therefore, it is not surprising that companion animals are more common in families with young children. In addition, there has been a movement to create technological substitutes for pets, such as the Tamagotchi, Furby, Tama, and AIBO. As this technology becomes more pervasive and sophisticated, its impact on children's lives will increase. How automated imitations of animals, i.e., robotic pets, impact a child's cognitive, social, and moral development is now being studied.

The studies with children and robotic pets are designed to better understand child development, and there is no expectation that robots will replace the family pet. That will probably never happen.