ChatGPT is hot right now. It can do seemingly everything, from solving math problems to being a mental health helper. The simple fact that it can help with homework can make it a big draw for kids and teens, but is it safe? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is ChatGPT and Is It Safe for Kids?
What is ChatGPT and is it safe for kids?
Image: Julia M Cameron
What is ChatGPT
ChatGPT is an AI assistant. It's a lot like Siri or Alexa, but with a few differences. Unlike Alexa or Siri, ChatGPT doesn’t use voice commands. You have to go to the ChatGPT site and type in what you want it to do. It can also carry on a conversation with you, mimicking how a human would respond. Plus, it can remember conversations and continue them later.
Accounts are free and there’s no need to put in your age when you sign up. This makes it easy for kids and teens to access.
What can ChatGPT do?
It might be easier to list what it can’t do. There are dozens, if not hundreds of different uses for the bot. Here are just a few:
- Solve math problems
- Give you someone (or something) to talk to when you’re lonely
- Look up history facts
- Explain complicated concepts like string theory
- Write poems, essays, and raps
- Search for fun things to do in your area
- Provide ideas for decorating, party themes, and more
Is ChatGPT safe for kids?
Image: Julia M Cameron
Before we go into what experts have to say, let’s see what ChatGPT has to say for itself. I asked ChatGPT, “Is ChatGPT safe for kids to use?” Here’s what it replied:
ChatGPT is a language model designed for general communication purposes and does not have any content that is specifically unsuitable for children. However, as an AI language model, ChatGPT's responses are generated based on patterns and associations learned from large datasets of text. While ChatGPT has been trained on a diverse range of texts and is generally safe, there is always the possibility that it may generate responses that are inappropriate or offensive.
It is also important to note that ChatGPT is not intended to replace parental supervision and guidance when children are using technology. Parents or guardians should always monitor their children's online activities and teach them to use the internet safely and responsibly.
Overall, while ChatGPT is generally safe for children to use, it is important to exercise caution and supervision when allowing children to use any online platform or tool.
Sounds reasonable enough. Through my research, I found that the bot is correct. As long as you supervise your child, ChatGPT is pretty safe. There are some nuances that parents need to be aware of, though:
- ChatGPT has been trained on a wide range of topics. Some of them may not be appropriate for your kiddos.
- ChatGPT was trained with content made by humans, so it can produce the same kind of biases.
- OpenAI (the creators of ChatGPT) review conversations to help improve the AI chatbot, so make sure your kids know that nothing they tell ChatGPT is private.
- Be sure that your kiddo knows that using AI-generated content for essays and other homework is cheating. Learning from it’s okay, but using it to do your work for you isn’t since you don’t learn anything.
How to keep your kids safe
The best way to keep your kiddo safe is to keep an eye on what they do online. Now, as a parent myself, I know that can be next to impossible when your kids are sneaky, or you have a lot on your plate.
We recommend getting a parental control app that can let you take a peek at what your kids are doing online. To keep track of ChatGPT usage, you’ll need to use an app that tracks website usage. If you don’t want your child to use ChatGPT at all, a parental control app can limit or block the website altogether on your kid’s devices.
Yes, but they should have parental supervision.
Both! Kids can use the AI assistant to cheat by having it write essays or complete math homework, but it can also be used to research and gain a deeper understanding of topics. For example, we asked ChatGPT, “Solve for the square root of 3,400.” It proceeded to explain how to find the answer instead of just giving the answer.
It’s important to note, ChatGPT was trained before 2021, so modern history information won’t be available. It also can’t look up anything because doesn’t have access to the internet. It basically draws all of its information from its memory, so what it “knows” is limited.
Yep, but it also has a paid subscription plan. For $20 per month, you don’t have to wait in line to use it when the servers are busy, and you get access to new features first.