Think cellphones are bad? Just watch what robots can do to kids

A pair of studies show that children respond strongly to robots, especially when they are small and cute. That can be good, the team at the University of Plymouth in Britain found. But it can also be troubling, because children were more likely than adults to give an incorrect answer to a puzzle if they saw robots giving wrong answers.

“It’s a bit sinister, isn’t it? Children succumb to peer pressure from robots,” said robotics professor Tony Belpaeme, who helped lead the study team.