Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Your Children’s Future Self-Sufficiency

Mindy Bingham's picture

There’s no denying that during elementary school, children learn fundamental skills including writing, math, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The introduction of artificial intelligence may hinder their ability to think for themselves and stifle their creativity. 

So, what is the solution? Until a child is literate, can read and comprehend what they are reading, write clearly and convincingly, and compute through basic algebra using only their own brainpower, do not introduce artificial intelligence into the elementary classroom.

Creativity is a fundamental aspect of human expression that distinguishes us from other species. Additionally, problem-solving as well as critical and strategic thinking are essential skills required by employers in any field. Writing papers and solving complex word problems are just some examples of how students develop these skills. Yet the use of chatbots like ChatGPT makes this effort no longer necessary.

Beware the temptation to even allow young students to use a chatbot to write their first draft of a paper, justifying they then can do the work to customize it. It is the act of coming up with original ideas and then organizing their thoughts that is the cornerstone to the critical thinking prized in the workforce.  

As educators and parents, I recommend caution by not jumping on this newest technology bandwagon, at least until research shows us the positives and negatives. A young mind is a precious thing, and it is vital that all necessary precautions are taken to protect it. Let us prioritize brain power over digital power and use technology only as a means to support and enhance learning, not replace it.

We don't have time to sleepwalk through this one. The genie is out of the bottle. So what can we do?

How can we prepare ourselves and our children for such advanced technology? 

Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Your Children’s Future Self-Sufficiency

Six Things Parents Can Do Now to Advocate for Their Children’s Future Self- Sufficiency

1. Educate yourself about these A.I. tools and try them for yourself
The best way to decide what role any technology should play in your children’s lives is to learn as much as you can about it. Find your trusted sources of news and information and review their recent coverage on the topic of artificial intelligence. Look at what the technology industry is saying about these tools, but focus on the serious critiques, not just the hype. Spend some time using one of the chatbots yourself so you understand what it can and cannot do. Approach your own use of these tools with the same level of skepticism you exercise when researching anything online. Is the information accurate? Is it based in fact or opinion?

2. Contact your local school board and get this issue on their next agenda
Until research shows that the positive impact outweighs the negative, every school district should be cautious about introducing chatbots into the elementary classroom. Large districts such as New York City Schools have already banned classroom use of these tools. Does your school board already have a policy about the use of ChatGPT, Bard, or similar tools? If so, find out what that policy is. If not, ask that the school board form a policy that restricts the use of these tools in the classroom. If you have concerns about an existing policy or a lack of policy, talk with other parents and form a parent action group. What is your school board doing to cultivate creativity, build resilience, develop critical thinking skills, and provide opportunities for early career exploration?

3. Talk to your children’s teachers
Find out what your children’s teachers know about ChatGPT and Bard. Teachers have a lot on their plate, so they may not have had a chance to explore this technology at a deep level yet—but they may know as much or more about it than you do. Talk about where your children are in their development—academically, emotionally, and socially—and be open with their teachers about any concerns you may have about the negative impact these tools can have on their growth. Find out what plans they have for its use in the classroom. Share this article with them. Advocate for activities and curriculum that build social-emotional skills like growth mindset, self-efficacy, and grit.
4. Create opportunities to enhance your child’s creativity through their own brainpower
Give your child chances to explore and exercise their own creativity—through storytelling, writing, games, drawing, painting, music, dance, whatever they love. Engage with them in ways that challenge their creativity, such as a storyline round robin where you start a fictional story and pass the storytelling to each child, and they pick up the storyline where the last person left off. Feed their curiosity. If something interests them, help them find a book, podcast, class, or experience where they can learn more. Look for ways your child can work with others and share their ideas and perspectives. Collaboration helps build creative problem solvers with solid communication skills. Foster a growth mindset by praising their effort and what they accomplish through hard work. Encourage them to keep trying when they encounter difficulties so they develop a growth mindset and learn to “fail forward”—seeing setbacks as an opportunity to learn and improve. 

5. Lobby Congress to make tech companies accountable to the educational process 
Congress must move quickly to ensure that the technology companies creating these types of artificial intelligence tools act responsibly and get ahead of any negative impacts to children’s learning. Contact your Representatives and your Senators, and ask them to make this a legislative priority.

6. Talk to your children about the downsides of technology
Once you feel you have done your own self-study, have an age-appropriate conversation with your children. Find out what they may have heard about ChatGPT or Bard. Talk about the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, and limits that your family is going to put on the use of this technology in your home. Explain why it’s important to their future that they develop self-efficacy and build confidence in their own abilities. Explore the technology together. Let your child ask questions and, depending on their age, either answer their questions or help them to find the answer using trusted sources. Help them understand the process you use to vet information online or in the media.



Author of the renowned Career Choices series, Mindy Bingham has served as the CEO of her own educational publishing company for over 30 years. In that time, with the support of thousands of educators, Academic Innovations has positively impacted the lives of more than 2.5 million students, motivating and empowering them to become self-sufficient, productive citizens. She has been awarded a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Innovative Approaches to Curricula by the United States Congress, as well as The Breaking Barriers Award of the Equity Council of the national Association for Career and Technical Education.