How to Safeguard Your Kids from Harmful Generative AI Usage

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AI tools are exciting new technologies, but adults need to play an active role in safeguarding children from potentially harmful generative AI usage.

  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of generative AI to protect children from inappropriate or unexpected content.
  • Have open and age-appropriate conversations with children about boundaries and responsible use of generative AI.
  • Supervise and encourage children to verify sources and question the authenticity of generative AI-generated content before sharing or believing it.

Generative AI is a shiny new toy for the upcoming generation. A generation that is true “digitally native.” And just like any toy, they are curious about it and will want to figure it out. However, there is no reason for adults in their lives to not take an active role in safeguarding them from harmful generative AI usage all while safely enabling their curiosities.

Do Not Live Under a Rock

You don’t need to know how this technology works. But you need to know its capabilities and limitations. A conversational AI, for example, will answer any question based on its guidelines and the dataset on which it was trained. Sometimes those answers can be a little… how should I put it… inappropriate. I asked ChatGPT a standard question for a curious child: From where do babies come? The AI did not disappoint. It gave an answer that was precise and accurate. But if a 10-year-old is reading it, it raises more questions than answers. Imagine your kid walking up to you on a school night asking, “What’s an STD?” I don’t know about you, but it would be very awkward having THAT part of “The Talk” so soon. That’s like skipping five chapters of the sex education book. And such unexpected results could also originate from generative AI art.

Communicate and Avoid THE BAN

Kids are smart. I have yet to meet a kid that wasn’t. And they are sponges, soaking up knowledge and mannerism left and right. So, if you want to curb harmful generative AI usage, sit them down and explain what you consider age-appropriate behavior. If your kid is old enough to have access to the internet, they are old enough to have an adult conversation about boundaries. Some talking points could touch on what this technology is capable of and what you consider acceptable use. Exercise parental control that will grant you control but also provide the kid with the freedom to explore. You know what they say, all that is banned is desired.

Controlled Chaos

This goes hand in hand with the communication part of this article. It’s crucial to emphasize the potential risks of harmful generative AI usage. Most parents supervise how their children use generative AI tools and teach them to be cautious when consuming and creating such content. They encourage them to question the authenticity of what they see and to verify the source before sharing or believing it.

Final Thoughts

Using AI is fun. And there’s no reason for kids not to use it. But there need to be boundaries in place for the kids to safely feed their curiosity. In my opinion, depriving kids of sources of knowledge is not the best answer. This could be a teachable moment for your kid about privacy, technology, harmful generative AI usage, and the ethical use of innovative tools.

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