Navigating AI: The Risks and Benefits for Children - Natterhub
Navigating AI: The Risks and Benefits for Children

In today's rapidly evolving digital world, artificial intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of our lives, shaping the way we learn and communicate. AI is already surging in popularity at home, with digital assistants like Alexa and Google Home catering to the needs of millions of families across the world. AI tools are becoming increasingly integrated into our day-to-day lives, from monitoring household appliances to giving medical diagnoses. They’re also gradually being introduced in schools, changing the shape of education.

Embracing these technological advances can unlock countless opportunities for creativity and social interaction, but it also raises concerns about unregulated content, deepfakes, and data privacy, especially for young people. As parents and caregivers, it is essential to recognise both the benefits and risks that AI presents for our children and how to help them stay safe.

Benefits of AI for Children

Enabling creativity and creating unique learning experiences

AI-powered tools can enhance children's learning experiences and encourage them to think outside the box, letting them see things from a different perspective. They can provide inspiration and help to generate new ideas that children may not think of themselves. Educational platforms and apps that utilise AI can also adapt to each child's unique learning style, providing personalised learning paths.

Assisting with challenging tasks

As well as creating unique learning programs based on a child’s ability level, AI can also assist children with learning challenges, such as dyslexia or attention disorders. Virtual tutors can offer tailored support, personalised feedback and positive reinforcement, providing plenty of opportunities for growth.

Providing companionship and social interaction

AI companions, virtual assistants, and chat platforms can provide vital emotional support and social interaction for children, especially those with neurodiverse conditions. These companions can enhance children’s social skills and emotional understanding, creating a positive impact on their development and mental health.

Enhancing children’s access to enriching experiences

For children in remote or disadvantaged areas, AI can bridge the gap and provide access to a wealth of knowledge. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems offer immersive and interactive experiences that may otherwise be inaccessible for many young people. For example, VR headsets can transport children to other continents and give them the opportunity to experience different cultures. AI language translation tools also enhance communication and provide support in many languages, breaking down language barriers.

Risks of AI for Children

Child using VR safely with AI

Lack of regulation

The overarching risk associated with artificial intelligence is a lack of regulation. The content provided through AI tools and platforms is not currently moderated and this poses a plethora of potential dangers, especially for young people. Unregulated content could potentially put children in contact with harmful or inappropriate content that may also be biased or discriminatory.

Deepfakes and misinformation

Without robust regulations in place, children could be exposed to incorrect or misleading information from AI image generators and chat platforms. With AI’s ability to generate deepfakes (fake information, images, videos, and recordings), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify credible sources and know if content is genuine or manipulated. Deepfakes can be used for malicious purposes to deceive people and hurt individuals, including children and young people.

Reliance on social media for news

Research by Ofcom found that almost 6 in 10 teenagers admit to using social media as their primary news source, despite it being the least accurate. Social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have become breeding grounds for the rapid spread of misinformation and fake news. As a result, it’s extremely important for children to learn digital literacy and critical thinking from a young age, giving them the knowledge and confidence to fact-check sources and cross-reference information.

Data privacy and protection 

AI-powered platforms often collect vast amounts of data, including personal information, to provide personalised content and improve the experience for the user. However, a lack of regulation can result in weak data protection, putting children's sensitive information at risk of being exploited or misused.

Online predators 

Another significantly concerning risk to children online is the threat of abusers and predators. AI in particular can enable online predators to conceal their real identities and hide behind characters. They can use AI tools to create narratives that mimic those of a child, increasing the risk of grooming and exploitation. Games and virtual worlds created by AI offer great opportunities for social interaction, but they can also expose children to predatory behaviour. Online abusers may use this seemingly safe community to exploit children’s trust and vulnerability.

Social media smart phone AI

Despite the dangers, through education we can help to equip children with the knowledge to identify the risks and opportunities of AI, and protect them against misinformation, fake news, and online predators. Learning about the potential dangers and how to handle them helps to create an environment where AI empowers children, while also safeguarding their wellbeing. 

At Natterhub, we’re leading the way in online safety education with our new program Natterhub Home. With engaging lessons and exciting incentives, we’re laying the foundation for a generation of digitally-savvy individuals capable of thriving in an AI-powered world. Caroline Allams, co-founder and head of product at Natterhub, states:

“With Natterhub Home, we firmly advocate education as a proactive approach to safeguarding children from online hazards while using connected devices. This approach remains equally relevant when it comes to preparing them for the world of AI. By instilling critical thinking skills and teaching them to question what they encounter on screens, we empower our young learners to recognise and navigate bias, misinformation, and potential risks associated with artificial intelligence.”

Help your child navigate the world of AI safely with Natterhub Home

As online safety experts, we at Natterhub believe that the digital world offers numerous advantages, but it comes with a responsibility to safeguard children. Our mission is to empower young people and teach them the necessary skills to navigate the digital world safely in school and at home. Education about the risks and opportunities of AI is a necessity. It’s a preventative measure that helps to shield children from the potential dangers associated with the ever-changing digital landscape. 

By taking a proactive approach to AI, we can build children’s digital resilience and ensure they’re prepared to navigate the digital world confidently and safely. To do this, we’ve recently launched Natterhub Home for children aged between 5 and 11 years old. The engaging and interactive lessons cover a wide range of topics, many of which include the use of AI. Through Natterhub Home, children will learn:

  • How to communicate safely online including how to respect others online, nuances of emojis, and information sharing that can create a digital footprint.
  • The importance of security and personal data including how data is collected by our devices and how we can protect our personal data.
  • What fakes are including how news, profiles, images and voices can be manipulated and cloned.
  • Understanding copyright including how to identify who owns what online and how to credit someone else’s work.
  • Identifying bias and misinformation including how to recognise credible sources of information.

CEO and co-founder, Manjit Sareen, explains the mission of Natterhub Home and its value in empowering children and parents to manage AI tools.

“At Natterhub, we recognise the genuine concerns parents have about their children engaging with technology they may not fully comprehend. As the world of AI continues to evolve, even experts are engaged in debates about its responsible control. Our mission is to empower young minds and parents alike by providing a robust educational solution that prepares children aged 5-11 years for the safe and savvy use of AI.”

You can find out more about Natterhub Home here, or click here to sign up for a free trial. 

How to talk to your child about AI

Although designed for children, Natterhub Home is also a great way for parents to open up about online safety with their child. Having open and honest conversations about AI with young children is crucial, and Natterhub Home’s engaging lessons can help to facilitate a chat about what the child thinks and feels about technology.

Alongside using Natterhub, here are some tips to help you talk to your child about AI:

  1. Start early - Research shows more and more children are going online at a younger age. In fact, in a study by Natterhub, 50% of 6-7 year olds said they had already set up an online profile. This emphasises the importance of introducing the concept of AI to your child as young as possible using age-appropriate language. 
  2. Encourage critical thinking - Encourage your child to question the information they encounter online and help them to identify reliable sources of information. 
  3. Explain the importance of security - Discuss the importance of maintaining a positive digital footprint and how to use strong passwords to protect personal data. 
  4. Raise awareness of risks - Discuss the risks associated with communicating with strangers online and explain how to identify inappropriate content. It’s also important to encourage children to seek help from a trusted adult if they come across this.
  5. Keep it positive - It’s important not to scare children away from using technology and going online, so make sure to also highlight the many positive aspects of AI. This includes the ability to assist us with challenging tasks and enhance creativity and learning.

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