What Parents Need to Know
about the World of Artificial Intelligence
By Jocelynn Buckentin, Technology Innovation Specialist
For many, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) has played out on movie screens for decades, but this technology has recently become more prevalent in our daily lives. AI chatbots have taken center stage as ChatGPT and Snapchat’s My AI become popular. Chatbots work by using natural language processing to both understand and respond to human language. As this technology rapidly evolves, many people have mixed emotions about its potential impact on our society, particularly in the areas of education, health and safety, and the workforce.
In education, AI chatbots have the potential to complete everything from short answer questions to longer papers with the click of a button. However, educators are concerned about how this technology will affect important skills like critical thinking and creativity. Parents can help by asking students about how they use chatbots and reinforcing the creative process when completing schoolwork. This doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding AI completely. In fact, I encourage my own students to utilize chatbots to get feedback on their work prior to submitting it. AI chatbots can help to improve student writing and provide detailed and timely feedback, which can help to make our students better writers. Teachers continue to explore the potential pros and cons of AI use in education alongside their students.
In terms of health and safety, AI chatbots like Snapchat’s My AI can be customized with their own profile picture and brought into conversations and group chats, blurring the line between talking to a human vs. a computer. At Hutchinson High School, teachers have noticed students talking about chatting with “Al” or “My Al,” so we know the technology is here and currently in use. While the bot is designed to be harmless, parents need to be aware of their children’s use of this feature and have a discussion about expectations surrounding its use. It is especially important to emphasize the importance of keeping personal information out of AI-powered systems.
The advancement of AI technology may also lead to changes in the workforce, as jobs traditionally held by humans can now be completed by chatbots. However, new jobs will also be developed relating to this new technology, so it is vital to keep up with these changes in order to help guide students to future career paths that they may be interested in.
To prepare children for the world of AI, parents can start by discussing what AI is and is not, encouraging children to ask questions and share areas in their lives where chatbots are in use. By opening up a dialogue about AI, children will be more likely to approach parents with questions and concerns as the technology advances. It’s also important to discuss the pros and cons of AI usage and emphasize responsibility. Parents can teach children to be aware of the information they share online, as well as the potential good and bad of AI usage. Finally, parents can remind children of the importance of human connections and interpersonal relationships, as chatbots may be efficient and convenient, but nothing can replace meaningful relationships with others.