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Commentary: How to talk about AI with your kids

AI is all around us — influencing what we watch, our shopping choices, and even what we do in our downtime. It’s clear that we must equip our kids with the knowledge and skills to navigate this tech-driven world effectively.

UNDERSTANDING AI’S LIMITATIONS

It’s equally important to understand that AI, like all technology, is not infallible. Such systems rely solely on the datasets upon which they are trained to generate results, which may have gaps and errors.

Children should be encouraged to fact-check all results generated by AI tools and verify the sources. This should be a crucial step in any task that involves the use of AI.

 It is equally important for schools and teachers to know that no tool currently exists that can definitively detect AI-generated content.

Therefore, children should not be penalised for AI-generated work, but encouraged to question and evaluate the veracity of it by checking sources. This will encourage a critical mindset by emphasising that AI tools are only as good as the data and instructions they receive.

SAFETY CONCERNS

Some AI chatbots can use foul language, show harmful content, or even perpetrate privacy leaks when sensitive or personal information is unintentionally disclosed or accessed.

This should not dissuade parents from letting their kids use AI. Instead, kids should be allowed to approach it with curiosity and taught to use it responsibly, just as they would learn road safety rules. 

While most AI apps have safety features – including stringent data handling practices, strong encryption, and age-appropriate content filtering – the use of parental controls and supervision is encouraged as kids are learning to use such tools.

At the same time, it’s important to balance virtual experiences with real-world interactions. Parents should continue to encourage outdoor play, face-to-face communication, and hands-on activities so that kids can develop well-rounded skills.

The key is to see AI as a collaborative tool that can augment human capability and creativity — not as a replacement for it.

BEING A RESPONSIBLE DIGITAL CITIZEN

Just as we cultivate good citizenship values within our local communities, fostering responsible digital citizenship is equally vital.

Parents can serve as role models in this regard. This entails showing respect for others’ privacy and security, refraining from misusing AI to cause harm or deceit, and employing their knowledge for constructive ends.

Encouraging kids to maintain a sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness about technology is crucial. They should feel empowered to ask questions whenever they come across systems that appear unfamiliar or perplexing.

By demystifying AI, acknowledging its limitations, and instilling a sense of responsibility, we can equip our children to thrive in this new age.

This conversation is a crucial step in building a generation of informed and responsible global citizens who will shape the AI-driven future for the better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr Gayathri Haridas is a policy manager at public policy consultancy Access Partnership where her work focuses on the impact of digital technologies on society. Gayathri is a technology and innovation policy specialist who has experience in advising governments and corporations on policy and strategy during times of intense change and uncertainty.

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