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Australian parents sceptical about AI's role in children's education
Wed, 13th Mar 2024

The increasing prominence of AI chatbots and large language models like ChatGPT, known for their unique ability to write short stories, compose poetry, and provide immediate answers to questions, is becoming a matter of concern among Australian parents. The rise of such technology, initially recognised as a breakthrough in the field, is now presenting a new dilemma regarding the education and well-being of their children.

In a recent survey conducted by Norton, numerous Australian parents have voiced their condemnation of AI, believing that their children are too addicted to screens. The statistics reveal that a staggering 74% of parents with school-aged children, ranging between 4 and 17 years, affirm they would neither permit nor trust their children to use AI to complete schoolwork.

Simultaneously, almost 59% of parents with children under the age of 18 confess that their children frequently explore the online world for recreational and educational purposes independently, making it tedious to supervise their internet usage.

The credibility of school technology policies and online security measures is questioned as only half of the responses from parents of children aged 17 and under vouch for them, while 10% of parents feel that schools lack vigilance in educating and safeguarding children against online perils.

AI is undeniably redefining the parameters of education, and we are witnessing how Australian parents are caught up in maintaining the right balance. "On one hand they welcome the conveniences that AI tools bring, while on the other, parents feel firm that AI can compromise their children's ability to think independently", explains Mark Gorrie, the Managing Director APAC, Norton.

In addition to the potential misuse of AI by children, the survey reveals that parents are also wary about other online dangers. Around 45% of parents are apprehensive about their children being exposed to unsuitable content, 44% fear the threat of online scams and manipulation, 37% are frightened of cyberbullying and 26% worry about internet addiction.

Despite the evident fears, a reassuring 72% of respondents are certain of their competence in safeguarding their children online and value privacy greatly. Among the 38% of parents who post pictures of their children online, a notable 77% ensure no symbols identifying the school are visible, 79% are cautious towards not revealing their home's details, and more than 90% utilise privacy settings while doing so.

According to Gorrie, it's heartening to see how vigilant parents are with what they post about their children online. Parents must learn to strike a balance and allow children to enjoy internet freedom while also shielding them from potential threats.

Meanwhile, Norton provides a range of solutions to assist parents in facing this challenge. Parents are encouraged to engage and invest in their children's online activities to comprehend the risks they are exposed to. Additionally, parents can educate their children about prevalent online threats and the proper usage of AI tools. Parents are also urged to carefully choose the AI tools suitable for their children's age and simultaneously ensure digital devices have suitable cybersecurity software.