Digital Education: A Parent’s Guide to Introducing Generative AI to Kids (Part 2 of 3)


In an age where technology shapes our daily lives, generative AI, artificial intelligence, stands as a beacon of innovation and creativity, offering a world of endless possibilities, especially for the younger generation. Not only does AI have the capacity to enhance learning, but certainly our children will rely on it in the future.

As parents, we must invest in our kids’ digital education, and introducing generative AI is a good investment in our kids’ futures.

Generative AI, AI that you can interact with and use to develop new writing, art, or music, when used with knowledge and intention, fosters a unique learning environment where kids can explore, experiment, and learn in ways that are tailored to their specific interests and abilities. 

Becoming comfortable using generative AI can prepare them for a future where technology and human creativity intertwine while bolstering their confidence and ability to explore new ideas.

It’s time to start talking about AI and showing our kids how to use it before they get lost or left behind! Introducing generative AI to our kids is not something we can delay or ignore.

A Generative AI created image depicting digital education surrounding AI.
A Generative AI created image depicting digital education surrounding AI.

First and foremost, we always need to talk about privacy. While these AI tools are incredibly useful, they learn by recording and analyzing the data you input into them. Think of your interactions with AI, like your online search history.

The searches you submit to Google influence the content and ads you see on other platforms, like social media. If you Google “beach vacations” your social media may become peppered with ads for bathing suits, sunscreen, vacation destinations, and flights. You may see articles about “Best Vacation Spots for Kids” and the like. Users must be aware of how the information they share with AI, knowingly or through implied consent and user agreements, is collected and used because private data provided to AI can potentially be accessed and utilized in ways beyond your initial intention.

Understanding this aspect of AI interactions, like interactions with many technologies, is crucial in maintaining control over your personal and proprietary information. For example, kids do not often realize that a picture they upload to the Internet today will still be there 50 years from now (even if they delete it).

In the same way, kids need to realize that the information they put into AI, AND the information that AI collects from them, will not only be there but it might be shared with others (and other businesses and technologies) without their knowledge or explicit consent.

Control settings and limiting private data input into AI tools must be understood for smart use and confidentiality.

We can’t forget about the ethical side to using AI- is it cheating?

My husband was in shock when I told him I allowed our daughter to use AI to help with her English paper. We firmly believe in teaching our kids to be responsible, hard-working, and to maintain high standards. My husband couldn’t believe that I would let her cheat by using AI!

I explained to him that “cheating” depends on how you use AI, and what she was doing she wasn’t cheating. AI is great for tasks like proofreading, suggesting improvements, defining words, or helping you hone 20 ideas down to 3 because you aren’t sure where to start. And when you have kids that do not like to ask for help, like I do, AI can provide a second set of eyes they can use easily.

My daughter quickly learned AI’s limitations when she tried to use it to write a short summary of a book that she read when she was overwhelmed with other work. She put in the author and the exact title and AI created a great paper about the wrong book.

If she had not read the book, she would not have known the AI-created essay was wrong and easily would have failed the project.

Of course, people will try to use AI for cheating (you may have even seen instances of this in the news) but if you do not have a foundation of knowledge to use with it, then you cannot know if the results it gives you are accurate. You will end up failing before you even start. It would be like cheating off someone’s paper in class that didn’t know the material.

Understanding the boundaries of AI is essential to ensuring its meaningful usage and maintaining personal integrity. Introducing generative AI to our kids does open up some interesting discussions about ethics, but the reality here is that you can’t blindly rely on AI.

We have to understand that AI is just not that smart. We feed AI information and what we get back can either be helpful or not so much.

Have you ever used AI to generate an image? While some results can be impressive, often they can be completely unrealistic with people having six fingers or missing facial features. AI-produced text is often riddled with errors. AI might be developing and learning but it is far from matching human intelligence, logic, and decision-making.

So why are we using it at all? The key lies in understanding its limitations. Now that we know some of them, let’s think about AI’s strengths and how to use them strategically and effectively with our kids. 

Envision AI as a mentor: a resource for posing questions and receiving thoughtful insights drawn from a multitude of sources, far beyond the simple, direct answers of a standard search engine. AI offers knowledge across a wide array of fields, tapping into extensive amounts of information.

Generative AI not only provides perspectives on a global scale but also fosters inquiry, encouraging even the most hesitant individuals to ask the “dumb questions” without fear of judgment. This is particularly beneficial for those kids who are reluctant to seek help or feel uncomfortable presenting their ideas.

AI creates a safe space for kids to explore ideas, submit them for feedback, and then refine or expand upon them as desired. Introducing generative AI to kids can give them an extraordinarily useful tool.

Generative AI can tailor educational content to suit individual learning styles and paces. Struggling with math? AI can generate practice problems. Interested in history? It can create engaging historical narratives. This personalization not only enhances learning but also makes it more enjoyable for unique learning experiences.

It can even guide learners towards more effective implementation, innovative enhancements, or new avenues of discovery. Using AI teaches children to ask questions in new, concise ways so that they can make learning more interactive, personalized, and fun.

Here are just  a few ideas to try as a way of introducing generative AI to kids:

  • Story Creation: Ask AI to generate a story based on specific characters, settings, and plots they choose. You can have a lot of fun with this- add every plot twist and outlandish situation and see what AI comes up with.
  • Math Problem Solver: Kids can input complex math problems and ask AI not just to solve them, but to explain the steps involved, to help them understand the concepts better.
  • Science Experiments: Ask AI for ideas for science experiments that can be done at home using everyday materials, including the scientific principles behind them- which makes for a fun weekend family project! You can also ask AI to perform virtual experiments for you and tell you the outcome.
  • Historical Adventures: Make history come alive! Have AI generate interactive stories or scenarios based on historical periods they’re learning about, allowing them to “experience” history.
  • Coding Projects: Kids interested in coding can ask AI for project ideas suitable for their skill level, along with tips and resources to complete those projects, such as creating a simple game or website.
  • Creative Ideas: Kids can ask AI for ideas or themes to get them started on things to draw, stories to write, or music compositions. Then they can get suggestions on how to explore more areas or improve their skills.
AI created image showing that AI is the center of today's digital world controlling the Internet of Things (IoT) around us.
AI is the center of today’s digital world controlling the Internet of Things (IoT) around us.

AI is undeniably shaping our future, and we must prepare our kids for this reality.

While it’s clear that AI cannot replace the value of human support and intelligence, it certainly can be a complementary tool, offering additional perspectives and guidance without judgment, prejudice, or skewed opinion. It will never take the place of a human, but it will definitely be supporting them.

By equipping our kids with AI knowledge and skills, as well as an understanding of its weaknesses and biases, we will empower them to navigate both their personal and professional lives in an increasingly tech-centric world and provide them with distinct advantages as they grow.

Generative AI isn’t just a tool; it’s a support companion in our children’s creative and educational journey. Failing to introduce them to AI now is a disservice on our part.

Let’s embrace this revolutionary technology and open doors of endless possibilities for our kids.

As parents, we are responsible for initiating these crucial conversations with our kids about generative AI. Introducing generative AI is something we can start immediately; you might even learn something new yourself that will change how you do things too!


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