Jentrie Hales
community advocate, @techhealthyfamily

AI or Artificial Intelligence seems to be a hot button word as of lately and as intense and intimidating as it sounds, we have been using it for ages. It was coined in the 1950s when Alan Turing, a British man, developed a systematic method for deciphering sophisticated messages that were encrypted by the German occupation. He is known as the Father of AI, and many people followed suit afterward.

So, what exactly is AI? It is a machine that functions to work like a human brain but way more efficiently. It can process large amounts of data quickly, recognize patterns, and make decisions like a human. But it can do all of that without having to stop for a bathroom break, chow down on a snack, or take a nap. How efficient.

This type of technology has been fully incorporated into our world, but for some reason if you think you are still immune to it, take a look at some of these examples of how we as humans utilize AI on the daily. Chatted with customer service recently? AI. Used Maps on your device to look up the most efficient route? AI. Typed an email and was prompted a phrase to complete your sentence? AI. Accessed any secure network using your face? AI.

We are now 70-plus years into this development, and it flows so seamlessly into our lives that we hardly even recognize it’s there working its hiney off to send the most professional sounding email possible. But how does this same technology affect our children and their interactions with it? While AI can help us do some very helpful tasks throughout the day, there is no doubt it has a darker side. Like writing your child’s history exam, feeding you disturbing content over and over again, and giving you false or misleading information to name a few.

The app Snapchat is trying AI on its users. One can be in constant communication with AI, send it pictures, ask it any questions, and get advice back. One can have a full-blown online relationship with AI! Snapchat is just one of the places this technology is commonplace as of right now and it is clear this beast is staying for the good or the bad (or both). Here are some thoughts I have about this and why we should remain wary of this technology, especially as it pertains to our kiddos.

As amazing as this technology is, at the end of the day it’s a computer— not a person. It does not have a conscience and it doesn’t know love. Even just knowing this fact means we cannot take what it says or suggests as more worthwhile than the advice from loved ones.

1. Kids do not need another thing to distract them in this world. With their long list of social status quo things they are expected to do, taking time to Snap a robot should not be one of them. They need more meaningful relationships, which is something AI will never be able to provide.
2. All signs point to AI being incorporated into everything we do. Young people need help in navigating this fact or they will get swept up in it. As the saying goes, we become what we surround ourselves with. If we put a lot of value into this technology, we might become people who know a lot of information but don’t have deep connections, morals, or real emotions.

It is abundantly clear that as overwhelming as this topic can be for us adults, we must be aware of what goes on with our kiddos in regard to this technology. We need to help them navigate how to use this technology in the best way possible, so they don’t get lost in the wind to the beast of AI.

 

Jentrie Hales is a community advocate with five years’ experience empowering parents and children in different settings. She has been invited into classrooms, youth groups, and parent groups throughout Cache Valley to speak about healthy relationships with tech and professionally mentor families that feel overwhelmed with managing the tech in their home. Follow her on Instagram @techhealthyfam or email her at techheatlhyfam@gmail.com