When you hear the name Alexa, the chances are one of the first things that pops into your mind will be the Amazon device.
Millions of homes around the world regularly call upon the the digital assistance to order their shopping, listen to music or even just to tell them what the weather is like.
But, while devices like the Amazon Echo and Dot are widely seen as brilliant technological advancement, it turns out that the use of the name Alexa is causing grave hardship to many people who bear the same name.
In fact, one mum has gone as far as changing her own teenage daughter’s name, after she suffered relentless bullying at school because of being called Alexa.
“She started to not want to introduce herself because of the jokes and the backlash. She was and still is a child, yet adults thought it was okay to make a joke of her. It’s devastating. The school was unhelpful and told her she needed to build resilience,” the mum told BBC News.
“She’s in a much better place now. We have cut off friends and moved her to a new school to allow a fresh start. The injustice will never leave her, or us. Amazon must change the default wake word on its devices. There was clearly not enough ethical research into using Alexa.”
And, it turns out this is far from being an isolated incident, with many other parents coming out with similar stories of relentless bullying over the name.
Another mum, who has a six-year-old daughter called Alexa, said: “It started in Reception. Older children would say things like ‘Alexa, play disco’. Other boys picked up on it and shouted commands at her.
“We were at the park the other day and every single boy there was saying it to her constantly. She’s started clamming up. I think it’s affecting her confidence. Adults make fun of her too.
“She said to me ‘I wish people didn’t know my name’. People buying these devices are unwittingly adding to the problem.”
In response, Amazon has said it is ‘saddened’ to hear of these girls’ experiences, and said it named Alexa to reflect its values.
“We designed our voice assistant to reflect qualities we value in people – being smart, considerate, empathetic, and inclusive,” the statement said.
“We’re saddened by the experiences you’ve shared, and want to be very clear: bullying of any kind is unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”