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AI Parenting: How to Talk to Your Kids about Generative AI

In recent years, generative AI, such as ChatGPT and Bard by Google, has experienced a notable surge in popularity. Many individuals are now incorporating this technology into their daily lives, and children aren’t an exception – with a growing number of them actively engaging with content-creating AI systems.

Even though today’s kids can use generative AI confidently, they still need guidance on the best practices when interfacing with the technology to guard against associated risks like data leakage and personal data misuse. This is where AI Parenting comes in.

AI Parenting

As the name suggests, AI Parenting focuses on nurturing your child’s awareness of the responsible usage of AI, as well as its benefits and risks. This article aims to provide you with a practical framework for engaging in meaningful conversations with your kids about generative AI in a way that’s easy to understand and enjoyable for them.

First, we’ll give an overview of Generative AI and why you need to teach your kids about generative AI.

What Is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a form of artificial intelligence technology that can create new and original content, like text, stories, pictures, music, and synthetic data.

Like most forms of artificial intelligence technology, generative AI works by looking, listening and learning from large inputs of data, from text to pictures, music etc. By drawing from previous data, generative AI uses the knowledge to make something new e.g., create new pieces of texts, poems, scripts, and stories on various topics/subject matters, answer questions, create new music or soundtracks, create realistic and imaginary pictures of humans and scenes etc. This is done after a human has given a prompt. 

Generative AI is used across various fields like art, science, education, finance, business etc. Some common examples of Generative AI that a large number of individuals use daily include ChatGPT, DALL-E, Image generators, Bard etc.

AI Parenting: Why Should You Talk to Your Kids about Generative AI?

  1. Talking to your kids about the usage of generative AI is a good opportunity to help your child learn to develop his or her creative ability through AI.                                                         
  2. Talking to your child about AI is also a good way for you and your child to learn about the technology together.
  3. An equally vital reason you should talk to your child about generative AI is for them to be safe. Not everything generated by AI is authentic and suitable for kids. Talking to your children about AI helps you address concerns associated with generative AI and educate them on how to stay safe online.
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How to Talk to Your Kids about Generative AI

When talking to your kids about AI, the key is to keep it simple and engaging and encourage your child to ask questions.

1. Start with the Basics

For effective AI Parenting on generative AI, start by explaining the basic concepts of AI to your kids. Essentially, AI is the ability of a computer, robot or machine to do intellectual things that humans would normally do, like learning, sensing, providing solutions to problems etc.

While AI might seem like a genius, some processes/techniques go into AI’s ability to do what it naturally does. They include:

  • AI is developed by computer scientists who determine how it will work. 
  • AI learns from examples and information (data collection). 
  • AI can do many things – create pictures, videos, stories, and music that have not been generated before by using the information it has learned,
  • AI is trained to get better over time because it continually learns from new information, 
  • AI is everywhere; however, AI is not perfect.

In our previous article titled “AI for Kids article,” we explained what AI is and how it works. You can use it as a guide in talking to your kids about AI. 

2. Use Relatable Examples

AI is everywhere. When talking to your kids about generative AI, use examples from their daily lives to explain what AI is used to do. 

Common forms of AI that kids can relate to include: 

  • Virtual assistants (Siri and Alexa) that kids ask questions and give instructions to, 
  • Video games which usually include AI characters that act as kids’ teammates or opponents and behave like a human player would, 
  • YouTube or Netflix recommendations to suggest vlogs and movies kids might be interested in based on what you have previously watched, 
  • Autocorrect on phones to correct wrongly spelt words or suggest words that you’re trying to type
  • Grammar tools like Grammarly to help make your writing great, face filters on camera
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3. Make it Fun and Engaging

Use games or websites to talk to your kids and teach them about generative AI. In our AI for Kids article, we listed ten websites where kids can learn about AI in a fun and easy way. Some of these websites have gamified quests where your children get to play games while learning about generative AI. Many of the quests help children explore their creative abilities. To make it engaging, you can join in the learning process and gamified quests.

4. Address the Benefits and Risks

Like most things in existence, generative AI has its benefits and risks for children. Therefore, when talking to your kids about generative AI, you should address its advantages and disadvantages. 

For the advantages, you can explain to your children how generative AI like ChatGPT can help them learn a complex topic by breaking it down into easy-to-understand concepts. Also, you can show them how to use generative AI for interactive learning and assistance with daily tasks

Some of the risks associated with using generative AI include over-reliance on technology, lack of critical thinking, inappropriate content, a sedentary lifestyle, security risks, and depersonalisation. 

As much as possible, help your children to guard against these risks.

5. Teach Your Child to be Ethical 

The ease that comes with using generative AI can make children extremely lazy and dependent on AI to do their assignments and projects. For true AI Parenting, counsel your kids to desist from plagiarizing through AI as it can attract punishment when discovered. Moreover, using AI to do their assignment will defeat the purpose for which the assignment was given: to learn. 

Instead of using AI to generate all the answers for their homework, teach your child to be creative by using generative AI to help come up with innovative ideas for a project. Generative AI is meant to augment human creativity not replace it. As an “AI Parent,” let your kids know that generative AI is very useful in helping them explore their creative abilities by providing them with the ideas and tools they need. 

6. Talk about Online Safety 

Many Generative AI tools tend to collect and keep a lot of information about the user. What this does for your kids is to put their privacy at risk. So, ensure that you talk to your kids about the kind of personal information they are putting on the web. Let them know that they should behave safely online and avoid sharing confidential information about themselves.

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Another perspective on online safety is to tell your kids not to believe everything they read online but to be critical users of information. Teach your kids to question if an answer to a question generated by chatbots is accurate. Not every content from generative AI is 100% accurate because the responses generated are pulled from the inputs of computer scientists and content put on the web by humans. This information may include human biases on some subject matters.  

7. Ask Questions 

Encourage questions from your kids on how generative AI works. You can initiate the conversation by asking your kids questions on what they understand by AI, what kind of questions they ask AI, the type of content they put on AI, how they use AI and how useful AI is for them.

Through these questions, you can find out your kids’ perspective towards AI and what they use AI for. Knowing this will help you concentrate on areas that your kids need your guidance.

8. Speak to Your Kids’ Teachers for Support 

Enrolling your kids in a school where technology is prioritised makes for a well-balanced AI Parenting. This is because teachers in such schools have a robust knowledge of how generative AI works and can guide students about their responsible usage. As a parent, you can reach out to your children’s teachers for support and recommendations of useful generative AI resources to aid your kids’ learning at home. 

Conclusion:

Generative AI is here to stay and more kids will continue to use this technology which they are fascinated by. As a parent, it is your responsibility to educate your children on its appropriate usage so that they can enjoy its benefits and guard against its risks. By following the tips provided in this article on AI Parenting, you can be sure that you’ll help influence your kids’ right use of generative AI.