Asking Today the Crucial Questions of Tomorrow: Social Robots and the Internet of Toys

  • Jochen PeterEmail author
  • Rinaldo Kühne
  • Alex Barco
  • Chiara de Jong
  • Caroline L. van Straten
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


Social robots and the Internet of Toys represent key technologies in children’s future lives. Based on Winfield (Robotics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012), we conceptualize the relationship between social robots and smart/connected toys with six characteristics: interactivity, energy, sensors, software control, movement and embodiment. These characteristics, in turn, help to classify social robots and smart/connected toys along three dimensions (i.e. horizontal, vertical and spatial integration), which suggests that the difference between social robots and smart/connected is rather subtle. We identify three common theoretical (absence or heterogeneity of theory, lacking developmental perspective, insufficient attention to intercultural differences) and three methodological issues (lack of standardized measures, study design issues, dominance of cross-sectional studies) that research on both social robots and the Internet of Toys needs to address.


Child–robot interaction Human–robot interaction Human–machine interaction Artificial intelligence Childhood 



This research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under grant agreement No. 682733 to the first author.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen Peter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rinaldo Kühne
    • 1
  • Alex Barco
    • 1
  • Chiara de Jong
    • 1
  • Caroline L. van Straten
    • 1
  1. 1.Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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