Artificial Intelligence for Children

Although children today start using artificial intelligence from an early age, it's important that we teach them what it's about and how to use it.
Artificial Intelligence for Children
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Technology has become an essential resource in everyone’s daily lives. In addition, today’s children are the first generation to grow up with artificial intelligence. Therefore, we should teach them its main purpose and objectives. Keep reading to find out about artificial intelligence for children.

You may not always notice artificial intelligence (AI), because it’s not what most people imagine, i.e. robots that think and feel like humans. However, it’s important to teach children how to identify it, how to cope with it, and how it affects their lives.

Artificial intelligence for children

We’re talking about artificial intelligence when a computer or another technological tool can perform actions that usually only humans can perform. How can they do that? Basically, it’s through programming algorithms, recognizing certain patterns, and predicting through them.

Artificial Intelligence for Children

If we combine machine learning with voice recognition (another artificial intelligence ability), we get virtual assistants, such as Google, Alexa or Siri. These virtual assistants make it easier for users to look for information.

AI is still developing and evolving. Therefore, there’s still a lot to investigate. However, it’s important for children to know that it’s not an act of magic. There’s no one inside the TV, the phone or the computer. They should understand that it’s about algorithms trying to find out what they want, based on the thousands of web searches they have in their database.

How can you explain AI to children?

Many children think that computers, robots, tablets and phones are smarter than them, or that they’re magic. This is why it’s so important to help them identify the difference between reality and technology. And, this is possible through education.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have worked with children of different ages to help them understand and use artificial intelligence properly.

Almost every kid between 10 and 14 years old have smartphones with different apps based on artificial intelligence. During these ages, children already have more complex moral reasoning and thinking.

Artificial intelligence for children: MIT ethics course

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has prepared a course on AI for children, where they learn to use algorithms. In addition, they get to see how behind every answer, there’s an intention. For example, they learn why Facebook or Instagram show you different advertisements with information related to your own web searches or interests.

Furthermore, they learn to build algorithms for certain apps. Finally, children learn easily and in a playful manner that technology, computers and phones are quick and powerful tools. They’re not acts of magic; they’re designed to work with algorithms programmed by humans.

Simple tips to put into practice

Parents and adults are children’s biggest role models. Therefore, we’re the ones in charge of explaining to them what artificial intelligence is, and what the limitations are. Here are some tips you can put into practice:

Artificial Intelligence for Children
  • You can sign them up for a programming or robotics course.
  • You shouldn’t refer to computers, robots or AI toys as people, because they’re not, and you can confuse your children.
  • It’s a good thing to talk about AI benefits, because it definitely makes our lives easier.
  • It’s important to make them understand that behind this “intelligence” are people programming the different functions.
  • You should be careful with certain toys some companies sell as your children’s best friend, because your children may become dependent on them, in a negative way. Remember that a machine will never replace the friendship of a real person.
  • Help them think critically, in order to identify the kind of information they receive from smart devices, the internet and social media platforms.

As we’ve seen before, artificial intelligence for children is something that must be explained to them. It’s very important for them to know that a machine isn’t smarter than them, and that there’s no magical acts inside their screens. They should know that behind all this, there are human beings.

Artificial intelligence is still developing, so we’ll witness many surprises in the future. Notwithstanding, virtual assistants make our life easier in many aspects, but, of course, everything has a limit.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Fernández-Ordóñez, J. M., Jiménez, L. E. M., Torres-Carrión, P., Barba-Guamán, L., & Rodríguez-Morales, G. (2019). Experiencia Afectiva Usuario en ambientes con Inteligencia Artificial, Sensores Biométricos y/o Recursos Digitales Accesibles: Una Revisión Sistemática de Literatura. RISTI-Revista Ibérica de Sistemas e Tecnologias de Informação, (35), 35-53.
  • Gross, B. (1992). La inteligencia artificial y su aplicación en la enseñanza. Comunicación, lenguaje y educación, 4(13), 73-80.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.