Skip to content

Department of Education

Janik Festerling

Doctoral Student

College Affiliation: Jesus College

Today’s young generations are among the first ones to grow up in an environment where digital voice assistants (e.g. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant) can emulate some innate capabilities of their human Creators, such as the autonomous use of human language and speech. My dissertation aims to contribute to a theoretical as well as empirical understanding of what role voice assistants play in today’s home and childhood environments, and how exposure to these machines is related to way children construct a basic understanding of the world around them. In addition, I am also hoping that my findings will prefigure to a certain extent how the nature of human-machine relationships might look like in a couple of years and decades from now.

I am a pragmatic proponent of mixed methods designs, with a particular emphasis on advanced quantitative means of scientific inquiry. I also hold a strong interest in philosophical issues related to the ongoing rise of artificial/machine intelligence.

Journal articles
  • Festerling, J., & Siraj, I. (2020). Alexa, what are you? Exploring Primary School Children’s Ontological Perceptions of Digital Voice Assistants in Open Interactions. Human Development, 64, 26–43.
Internet publications:
  • Festerling, J. (2020). Changing Nature of Childhood Environments – Investigating Children’s Interactions with Digital Voice Assistants in Light of a New Paradigm. Proceedings of The Thirteenth International Conference on Advances in Computer-Human Interactions – ACHI 2020, 73–78.
  • Festerling, J. (2020). Alexa, How Do You Change Us? Annual Poster Conference of the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.
  • Festerling, J. (2020). Innovators’ Freedom to Challenge Our Paradigms: Why the Copernican Legacy Should Guide Our Progression through the Incipient Age of Artificial Intelligence. Proceedings of the Global Essay Competition at The Fiftieth St. Gallen Symposium.


Alexa, How Do You Change Us? Children’s Open Perceptions of Digital Voice Assistants in Middle Childhood and the Mediating Role of Ontological Categorisations

Follow Us