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How Are Children Impacted By AI? Why The Next Generation Will Be Reliant on Robotic Assistants

Just like the last generation of kids grew up over-reliant on phones, it looks like the next will rely on AI. Is it safe? What's gonna happen?
Image by Postproduccion on Midjourney
Image by Postproduccion on Midjourney
October 11, 2023 5:00 am

Students are back to school and teachers are confused on whether they should be using AI or not. ChatGPT is writing more essays than ever. The AI in the classroom discussion has been going on for a while and was reignited by the new school year.

But what about the youngest ones, the next generation of students who will certainly grow up with AI? How can parents ensure safe use while taking advantage of the new technology?

Some companies claim to have developed AI platforms and robots, safe and specifically made for children. These robots are made to turn learning into a fun and interactive experience, spark curiosity and imagination among young users.

The benefits that these robots are supposed to have are that AI robots offer tactile, user-involved learning experiences that capture children's senses and ignite their creativity. Through programming and executing commands, these robots are supposed to endorse problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities.

They also offer an early introduction to STEM topics, setting up children for future academic and professional prospects. They also provoke creativity and curiosity, something school tends to unintentionally erase.

Here are a few examples of learning and coding robots:

  • Cozmo: This mini-robot is a learning tool, utilizing AI and computer vision. Cozmo recognizes and interacts with its environment and user- it can play games, express a range of emotions, and even teach coding.
  • Dash and Dot: The two small robots offer kids their first experience with oding and robotics. Equipped with a simple interface, children can program Dash and Dot to execute a variety of tasks, fostering critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Ozobot: Ozobot is a miniature robot with a unique method of teaching code through color. Children can draw lines and use colored markers to create code sequences, which Ozobot will follow, making learning coding more accessible and understandable. It works both screen-free with colors or on screen.
  • Robo Wunderkind: This educational robot kit encourages children to dive into the world of STEM. Kids can build and program their robots using different modules and sensors included in the kit. 
  • Cubetto: A charming wooden robot, Cubetto, introduces the basics of programming to children with a physical programming board, avoiding screens and using the techniques of Montessori.

Here are a few online AI platforms for digital learning:

  • Furwee: For children ages 3-7, it uses an animated character to introduce young children to interacting with an AI chatbot and support them with learning and expanding vocabulary. It’s available in 9 languages and based on ChatGPT.
  • PinwheelGPT: For kids 8-14, based on ChatGPT. Removes explicit language and adult content, and enables parental monitoring of all chats.
  • Khanmigo: Khan Academy is a Non-Profit that wants to make education accessible. Khanmigo is their AI-powered guide that can tutor students and act as an assistant for teachers.

While all that sounds great (I mean who doesn’t want their kids to benefit from tech to become smarter?), experts have concerns about what AI does to a child's mind.

The risk of children developing emotional attachments to AI robots is noteworthy as weird as it sounds. Psychologists warn that this reliance can blur the lines between human relationships and attachment to objects, which could negatively impact children's interpersonal skills.

If children become too attached to robots and AI, they might not develop good social skills because they're not spending enough time with other people.

With the introduction of AI in education, there's a fear that children might depend excessively on robots’ help, somewhat neglecting to learn important facts and skills. It's important to balance learning with AI and traditional methods to make sure kids grow and learn in a holistic way.

Over-reliance will result in a failed educational state, much like when parents just chucked phones at their kids to feed their attention. Now look at where that took us.

Some privacy and security concerns also lie in using AI platforms. These platforms could unintentionally expose children to inappropriate content or make kids' data vulnerable to breaches and bias. AI's use in children's lives definitely needs careful monitoring and regulation.

Shaping young minds is a delicate task, and incorporating AI mechanisms must be approached very very carefully. AI can undoubtedly be a powerful tool in children's education when used wisely and maintaining a healthy balance.

Parents and educators must take an active role in guiding young minds on this journey, optimizing their learning experiences while minimizing potential pitfalls.

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Written by Marei Schiffmann
Marei, a linguistics enthusiast, recently joined the Gold Penguin team as a writer. During her studies on multilingual communication, she discovered her true calling in the world of writing. She developed a keen fascination for AI and technological advancements. As a result, her writing primarily focuses on delivering the latest news in the realm of artificial intelligence.
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