ANNA COLLARD | How to keep up with your kids in the age of AI
Artificial intelligence has entered a new phase of evolution, raising important questions about parental management and its impact on children
Parents are not keeping up with their children when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI).
A recent survey found that only 30% of parents had heard of ChatGPT (or used it) compared with 58% of students. That said, both parents and children are enthused about what AI can do for them on the educational front, helping them learn and giving them tools to better manage their studies and admin. However, there are concerns.
As a mom, the downside of AI goes beyond cheating and helping children write essays. It can fake images and messages, affect a child’s reputation, and could have a serious impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The inherent nature of AI suggests rapid evolution, and parents and children must remain concerned and aware of this. This evolution means that many may fail to catch up with the capabilities of different platforms and this could ultimately leave them behind. The implications of this are twofold — on one hand, people may not know how to protect themselves; on the other, they may not have the advantages that others gain through their use of the technology.
There is a risk that AI and its platforms carve a greater gap between those who have and those who do not, and that leaves some students struggling to keep up
There is a risk that AI and its platforms carve a greater gap between those who have and those who do not, and that leaves some students struggling to keep up. Some may fail to truly grasp what this technology means for them and what they are losing by not being part of the evolution.
Another challenge is, of course, that AI can affect personal and professional security. On the personal front, AI has already been used to create fake images and messages. The FBI recently released an alert on how malicious actors are using AI to create fake sexually explicit images to extort children and parents.
This risk underscores the importance of keeping images of children off social media and educating children about sharing images with others. Social media has changed but parents are not changing with it — pictures of children should not be shared on these platforms because this can have serious long-term repercussions.
That is why I believe AI training needs to be incorporated into security awareness programmes at universities, educational institutions, and for children and their parents.
Some risks that need to be covered are uploading personal or confidential information, and conversational AI chatbots that are used for the manipulation and spreading of misinformation messages. Another risk is that social engineering is becoming increasingly sophisticated thanks to AI-generated attacks and, with a lack of regulation and understanding from the government, there is not a lot of protection available to people right now.
I strongly believe all parents must educate themselves. Schools and education institutions need to empower children with ongoing awareness and insights. Yes, many of the dangers are still theoretical, but understanding the risks means parents are prepared and can potentially minimise the damage or the chances of something negative happening.
Moving forward, there has to be education that is supplemented with actionable plans that are easily followed by parents, teachers and students, and ongoing visibility into how AI is evolving so that people are aware, can protect themselves, and can face the future with a measure of confidence.
There is no need to be lost in the woods when people are empowered and educated and shown how to live in a world with AI.
Children do not realise they are being manipulated, so monitor their use of technology and remain aware of how AI is evolving and changing within this space. You do not need to dive into the depths of AI to make the risks understandable for children — just show them the how and the why, so they can also protect themselves.
AI is not going away, so parents and educators need to educate themselves to prepare for what it may bring, be it positive change or negative consequences.
• Anna Collard is an SVP content strategy & evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa.
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