Kids rely on adults to teach them about AI, survey says

“Like with any new technology, we need to educate, empower and equip young people with the necessary skills to use generative AI responsibly.”

That’s according to Courtney Gregoire, chief digital safety officer at Microsoft, in a new survey from the National 4-H Council, a youth development organization. However, many kids express concerns about the technology, primarily as it relates to cheating and privacy.

Fifty-four percent of respondents ages 9-17 say AI will improve how they learn at school, the survey suggests. Additionally, 64% said it will help them learn the things required for their future careers.

Yet, help from experts continues to be lacking. As a result, more than 60% of survey takers cite concerns about how the tool can be used for cheating.

Here are some of the negative ways kids think generative AI will be used:

  • AI will make it easier to hear: 61%
  • AI will be used to cheat on assignments: 56%
  • AI will uncover things about me that are meant to be private: 53%
  • AI will hinder my problem-solving: 37%
  • AI will cause issues with my teachers or parents: 37%
  • AI will spread misinformation: 35%
  • AI will stop me from interacting with friends: 18%

One of the most notable findings from the survey suggests that kids desire some sort of guidance from an adult on how to use the technology safely and effectively. Seventy-two percent of kids want an adult involved in their learning of proper AI use. This is especially true for 9- to 12-year-olds (84%).

Education is slow to adopt AI

This survey closely mirrors the findings from the EAB’s latest “Voice of the Superintendent” survey, a snapshot of nearly 150 district leaders’ perceptions about some of the most pressing matters in K12 education.

According to the EAB’s report, superintendents overwhelmingly agree that AI will transform the way schools educate students within the next five years and that schools play a key role in teaching students how to use it. However, only three in 10 superintendents feel prepared to lead their district’s AI strategy. Furthermore, only 4% consider determining AI practices and policy as a “very urgent issue” for their school districts. Instead, more than 40% rated AI policy implementation as “not urgent,” meaning, “This can wait.”

Instead, superintendents rate these issues as top-of-mind this school year:

  • Recruiting and hiring qualified teachers: 51.7% say this is urgent.; 39.5% say they need time to work on this.
  • Accelerating student progress in math: 47.9% say this is urgent; 42.8% say they need time to work on this.
  • Reducing chronic absenteeism: 47.3% say this is urgent; 45.2% say they need time to work on this.
  • Reducing disruptive behavior: 44.2% say this is urgent; 45.6% say they need time to work on this.
  • Raising teacher morale and engagement: 36.1% say this is urgent; 52.4% say they need time to work on this.