5 Steps Parents Should Take to Help Kids Use AI Safely

5 Steps Parents Should Take to Help Kids Use AI Safely – Just as older generations have had to navigate the internet and social media, our children will have to learn how to interact with AI. We cannot escape this new era in the technological revolution; children as young as infants often come into contact with AI toys and chatbots like the smart toy ROYBI Robot, AI teddy bears from VTech, Moxie Robot, Siri, and Alexa. But we can’t just wait for the government to impose regulations and protect us (even though that is crucial for our sustained future). We should start in our homes, making sure our children are set up for success in a world increasingly shaped by tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney.

This requires ongoing conversations between parents and around the educational benefits of AI, the potential dangers of f ully relying on this technology, how technology affects us emotionally and behaviorally, and how the humans behind the algorithms also impact what information AI. gives us. Developing a sense of discernment from a young age through these discussions around the different uses of AI will help our children establish healthy critical thinking patterns. They’ll become accustomed to driving their brains to merge in healthy ways with new technology, which is an essential mind-management habit that will serve them throughout their lives.

One great way to do this is to follow the principles of mind-management called the Neurocycle, which underpins over 30 years of my research and practice as a clinical neuroscientist and mental health researcher. It is a simple, five-step system that activates the mind-brain-body connection by helping a person build new knowledge into the brain to increase attention, concentration, intelligence, and resilience. It is also a valuable strategy for rewiring toxic thinking patterns into healthy mind management habits. The sequential nature of this five-step process transforms harmful thoughts into healthy thoughts, redirecting the neuroplasticity of the brain, and can help both children and adults learn new information effectively.

Gather awareness

The Neurocycle process starts by gathering awareness. Encourage your child to look inward and consider how they feel mentally, physically, and emotionally. This helps them become more mindful of how certain thoughts or moments impact them. When a child interacts with an AI device like Siri, for example, a parent can ask simple questions like “How does Siri make you feel?” “Do you like using Siri?,” “What do you not like about Siri?” This gather step helps teach kids self-regulation, which is essential to the process of mind-management. We cannot control or change what we are not aware of.

Take a moment to reflect

The next step in the Neurocycle process is to reflect and think more deeply about the gathered self-awareness. Parents can prompt kids into a discussion with questions like “Why do you think Siri makes you feel that way?” “Do you think you can do the same thing without Siri?” and “What do you think you can do when something like Siri starts to make you feel anxious?” This helps children and parents start to see how their feelings and thoughts are linked and may have deeper roots.

Capture your reflections

The third part of the process is to capture these reflections by writing or drawing. This helps bring clarity and order out of chaos in the brain and increases insight. Alongside your child, you can put the feelings and thoughts about using AI technology like Siri in bubbles and shapes on paper, using arrows and colors, or simply just writing.

Notice the patterns

Next, you’ll want to recheck the last three steps by analyzing what was written or drawn. Here, you will help your child look for patterns or common themes in their interactions with AI. For example, while examining what was written with your child, they may notice that Siri makes them feel “lazy” or “tired.” You can use this opportunity to discuss how AI technologies like Siri can be helpful, but there are also benefits to doing something yourself, and we shouldn’t rely on technology to do everything. You can show them how it can be just as fun to do something without using Siri.

Create actionable next steps

The final step is an action step, or active reach, which helps reinforce the new way of thinking that you’ve discovered. You and your child can come up with a daily activity that solidifies this new mental habit. For example, maybe you’ll develop a plan where Siri can be used only three times each day. Every time Siri is used, you and your child must do the same task without Siri and compare the results.

By helping children become more aware of how AI impacts them, the Neurocycle encourages children to examine the technology’s mental and physical side effects, eventually forming a healthier understanding of the differences between reality and technology.

When parents and children process the impact of AI, they must continuously find ways to practice using it in a safe and balanced way to form new habits over time. Whether it’s using AI for a school project or encouraging them to discover new ways to balance their use of technologies with social connections, these simple actions will help children practice the newly learned information so it can become a useful habit that sticks.

In many ways, we have failed to prepare ourselves and our children for the advent of social media, and the ramifications of which are still being felt. But we have the chance to learn from history, and set up future generations for success when it comes to AI. Our duty as parents is to educate ourselves so we can educate our children on how to safely and successfully use this new technology, because it is here to stay. The first time with social media we were the victims, the second time we will become volunteers unless we embrace this new world and learn how it works.

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