Artificial intelligence can be a hard concept for adults to fully wrap their heads around, so explaining it to kids is even harder. Having to explain this technology to kids is fairly uncharted territory, but something necessary to do since they are more than likely being exposed to it every day.
Another layer of this is AI safety. Today, so many young children have smartphones of their own, meaning they have access to chatbots like ChatGPT and other AI generated software. It’s important for kids to be briefed on internet safety before interacting with AI.
Here are some tips on how to approach the AI conversation with your little ones, starting with a basic explanation of how to keep them safe in the AI age.
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- A kid-friendly explanation of AI
- Providing AI examples
- Keeping kids safe while interacting with AI
1. A kid-friendly explanation of AI
AI is complicated and fully understanding how it works is difficult. So, it is especially challenging to try explaining what AI technology is to a young child.
One approach is to start with the basics. Integrate.ai provides a kid-friendly definition of AI on their website that you can use when trying to explain the technology. When talking to kids about AI, you can explain it as a computer that works similar to a brain. Then, explain to them that the computer is able to learn by the words, pictures and numbers that it is given.
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2. Providing AI examples
After providing a (fairly) easy to understand definition of AI to a child, you can provide some examples to them of AI in practice that will help them gain a better understanding of the technology.
If your child has any Apple device, they probably know what the voice assistant Siri is and have interacted with it before. If you have any Amazon Echo devices around the house, they have probably heard or talked to the voice assistant, Alexa. These voice assistants are great AI examples that kids have likely had many interactions with in the past.
Video games are another popular AI example that a lot of kids will be familiar with. You could also talk with them about self-driving cars.
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Kids are extremely curious and are probably going to have lots of questions about AI, so giving them just a few examples they are familiar with could help them gain a very basic understanding of what it is.
3. Keeping kids safe while interacting with AI
The third, and perhaps the most vital, part of this conversation is keeping kids safe online. Online safety has always been of concern when it comes to children, but with AI, this worry has grown larger.
AI has dangers that come with it. AI has caused lots of phishing scams, misinformation, data breaches, cyberbullying and even has grown concerns with stalking.
With all of these issues at play, it’s important to keep vulnerable kids safe against these potential dangers.
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The Snapchat chatbot, My AI has been an issue with children, since it is a chatbot now programmed into every user’s app. Since its release, there have been instances of children using the bot to get advice on serious topics like relationships and mental health. The chatbot can not be deleted unless the user has a paid Snapchat subscription, leaving the bot in the hands of many children.
One way to keep kids safe is taking advantage of parental controls and password protection. Set up parental controls on apps you don’t want your kids using and use passwords to secure websites you don’t want them to access.
Another thing that you can do is set screen time limits for kids and monitor what they are doing with that screen time. Kids use technology very frequently today, so keep that screen time in mind and keep tabs on it.
Lastly, have conversations with kids about how to be safe online. At the end of the day, they have access to AI and other technologies all the time, so it is important to talk with them about the dos and don’ts of technology to keep them safe.