Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving and being released for public use faster than its developers can add essential safeguards in many cases. It’s becoming increasingly integrated not only into adults’ lives, but their children’s. Certainly, you don’t (yet) have to fear the malevolent doll from the cautionary blockbuster M3GAN. Still, and despite its many innovative uses, AI comes with risks similar to other internet-related concerns. Here are some of the dangers that AI can pose to kids and how parents can implement AI safety protocols at home.
Why AI Can Be Dangerous Without Proper Precautions
The Danger: Passive User Data Collection
AI-powered toys and other devices can collect data on children’s behavior, preferences, and even their voices. This data can be exploited by hackers for predatory purposes or by the manufacturing company for marketing research purposes, and parents may not be aware of how it is being used.
Carefully review how data is collected and used by AI devices before purchasing them (including any phone or household digital assistants your child can interact with). Consider researching and purchasing products with robust user privacy protocols.
The Danger: Kids Sharing Personal Information
Children may not understand the potential consequences of sharing personal information online or with an AI device, and AI products may not always be transparent about how that information is stored or used.
Teach your child not to share personal information online or with AI devices. If they aren’t ready to grasp or reliably heed this, monitor your child’s interactions with AI—or skip these devices until they are older.
The Danger: Social Media Content Chosen by AI Algorithms
Social media AI algorithms are designed to keep users engaged on platforms by showing them attention-getting content. Consequently, children may be exposed to inappropriate content or dangerous misinformation without their parents' knowledge.
First, decide if your child is really ready to use social media. If you think they are, use parental controls and other settings to curate what kinds of content they are exposed to, who can interact with them online, and how.
The Danger: Imbalanced Social Interactions
Parents should consider the impact that AI can have on children’s emotional and social development. If children spend too much time interacting with AI and not enough with humans, they may not develop essential social skills.
To protect young ones from AI dangers, parents and caregivers must stay involved in their children’s use of AI-powered products and have conversations with kids about the risks and benefits of AI. You can also advocate for stronger AI regulations and support educational programs that promote internet safety for children.
Teach Kids Safe Tech Use With Net Positive
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and improve healthy behaviors.
Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation, or support us with your donation today!
Metz, Cade, and Gregory Schmidt. “Elon Musk and Others Call for Pause on A.I., Citing 'Profound Risks to Society'.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/29/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-musk-risks.html.
mikka__ella. “Future AI Toys Could Be Smarter than Parents, but a Lot Less Protective.” CNBC, CNBC, 11 July 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/11/future-ai-toys-may-be-smarter-than-parents-and-less-protective.html.
Sam Graboys. “Is Tiktok Safe for Kids?” Net Positive, Net Positive, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.benetpositive.org/post/is-tiktok-safe-for-kids.