Generative AI and Teens: What Parents Should Know

A person working on a computer.
Photo from

AI – the beginning of the end or a useful tool when used responsibly?

If you keep up on tech news, you’ve probably heard of new artificial intelligence technologies like ChatGPT and Bard. You may have even seen some videos online displaying AI images created by programs like NightCafe or Dall-E. If you’ve heard about this seemingly futuristic technology, your teen has probably already used it.

Known collectively as generative AI, these programs can be both fun and useful to use. However, as with any new technology, there are several potential risks that parents should be aware of. 

What is generative AI

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create, or generate, new content that is nearly indistinguishable from human created content. This content could be in the form of text, images, and audio or even music, 3D renderings and computer code. Different implementations of generative AI can be used to create different types of content.

How are teens using it

With so many uses, it’s important for parents to understand how their teens may be using these powerful tools.

While some teens may simply be using it to entertain themselves by creating silly pictures or memes and funny stories, other teens are using generative AI more seriously. Some teenagers are using it as a form of self-expression to create art, music and written works.

There are also teens who are using it to help them learn new things by generating practice problems or providing step by step instructions on how to complete new tasks.

The dangers of generative AI

Because generative AI is such a versatile tool there are many opportunities for teens to misuse it. Teens could potentially use it to cyberbully others by generating defaming images or stories at the push of a button.

There are also serious concerns with privacy as personal information shared with these programs may be collected and possibly become publicly available. Depending on where the AI program pulls information from, there is the potential for misinformation, as well as inappropriate content, to be provided to your teen.

Perhaps the most significant risk is generative AI’s capacity to allow teens to cheat at school. Even now, typing an entire math problem into a generative AI enabled Google or Bing search will display a full solution of the equation. Need to write a paper? Simply type in the subject and main topics you need covered into ChatGPT and sit back while it writes the possibly plagiaristic report for you.

How to talk to your teens about it

As you can see, generative AI could have a significant impact on the lives of teens. And it’s only going to grow more complex from here. Therefore, it is important for parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about the possible risks, and benefits, of using AI programs.

These conversations should revolve around what is ethically acceptable, as well as the long-term effects of misusing AI. By staying informed and keeping lines of communication open, parents can guide their teens towards using AI safely and responsibly.