Breaking Down the Mysteries of ChatGPT: Everything Parents Need to Know
APR 27, 2023
Breaking Down the Mysteries of ChatGPT: Everything Parents Need to Know
Many parents remember the days of asking Jeeves or texting ChaCha. Then along came Siri and Alexa. And now, the latest all-knowing respondent to join our online world is ChatGPT.
There’s much to know, learn, and be wary of when it comes to new technologies. But there’s no need to fear change.
We will discuss the pros and cons of the groundbreaking artificial intelligence ChatGPT, and everything parents need to know to help their kids use new systems for convenience and learning.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a San Francisco-based large language model created by Open AI, an artificial intelligence research laboratory.
In simpler terms, it’s an artificial intelligence chatbot trained through vast amounts of text data and algorithms to understand, analyze, and generate human-like responses.
OpenAI was founded in 2015 by several prominent figures in the tech industry, including Elon Musk (Tesla) and Sam Altman (Y Combinator).
At its release in November 2022, ChatGPT set a record for the fastest-growing platform in history with one million users in its first week.
ChatGPT received an average of 616 million monthly website visitors in February 2023. As a reference, Google—the most popular website worldwide that’s been around for 24 years—received approximately 88 billion visitors in the same month.
Although ChatGPT seems to be an innovative idea, many other corporations have been working on the same concept. Shortly after ChatGPT was released, both Microsoft and Meta announced their chatbots—Bing AI and LLaMA, respectively, in February 2023. Google introduced us to Bard AI in March 2023. Lesser known companies have also released their own chatbots, such as ChatSonic, Jasper Chat, Claude, and Perplexity AI.
What ChatGPT can do
- Provide answers about general knowledge
- Discuss topics such as math, history, technology, etc.
- Give definitions
- Supply explanations
- Offer advice
- Write reports, poems, and articles
ChatGPT will not
- Promote hate speech or discrimination
- Facilitate illegal activities
- Provide medical or legal advice
- Impart personal beliefs or opinions
- Comment on confidential information
- Provide any information post 2021
Once a user is on the OpenAI website, there’s an option to try out ChatGPT. Users can type in questions or queries and the chatbot will respond.
The website warns users of ChatGPT’s limitations which may generate incorrect information, biased or dangerous advice, and has limited knowledge of events that occurred after the year 2021.
How ChatGPT was created
ChatGPT was trained by programmers by being fed large amounts of text data, including articles, books, websites, and other text sources. It’s designed to learn patterns and relationships within this data.
As ChatGPT interacts with users, it continues to learn through a process called fine-tuning. This allows the chatbot to adapt and improve generated responses over time based on these interactions.
Its learning is still always guided and controlled by programmers, and it doesn’t have complete autonomy when it comes to machine learning. It should be noted that computer programs can only spit out what’s been put into it.
Does ChatGPT save data?
Yes. Many users wonder how to save ChatGPT conversations, but it’s automatically saved. All conversations and data are archived and listed on the left-hand side of the screen. Users can go back to previous conversations and pick up where they left off.
Information that is sensitive or private information can become public when entered into AI. Samsung learned this the hard way when proprietary data was shared with ChatGPT.
Kids can be taught digital citizenship skills, such as keeping private information private by not sharing it on public forums like ChatGPT.
The Pros and Cons of ChatGPT For Kids
Just like a search engine, ChatGPT can provide users with specific or broad answers to their questions. It can also generate more substantial content—a book report, a poem, the solution to a math problem that shows the work, and even give some sound advice.
However, ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. By its own admission, Chat GPT may “generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content.”
In the following example, Chat GPT provides misinformation that Mount Everest is in the United States. In fact, it borders Nepal and China.
OpenAI co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, recently called ChatGPT a “horrible product” on the New York Times tech podcast Hard Fork.
This critique is in part due to ChatGPT internal server errors, site crashes, shortcomings with integration, and ChatGPT errors on long responses.
Con: Child exploitation
By far the worst outcome from AI created content is the ability and ease in which pedophiles can create child abuse materials. The influx of AI-generated content has led to the creation of many uncensored chatbots that allow pedophiles to circumvent filters and controls put in place by large corporations. These uncensored chatbots can create graphic images and text portraying child abuse.
Pro: Can ChatGPT write essays
ChatGPT can write essays with correct grammar. It can provide comprehensive information on a topic, and even include insights, and analyses. By reading these on-the-spot essays, kids can get ideas for their own essays. ChatGPT can even provide the child with an outline to help them organize their thoughts, or clean up a finished essay.
Con: Is ChatGPT plagiarism?
Turning in answers or an essay written by ChatGPT is considered plagiarism and is unethical. If a student is caught, plagiarism can lead to failed assignments, failed courses, suspension, teacher biases on future assignments, or school expulsions.
Some schools have started banning ChatGPT from school devices due to the ease with which kids can cheat on assignments. Plagiarism threatens the foundations of knowledge. Plagiarism destroys the links to past knowledge by refusing readers access to sources.
Though it’s a serious ethical violation, teachers may not be able to detect plagiarism on their own as ChatGPT supplies a different response to each individual user.
Pro: ChatGPT explains math problems
Kids who have questions about an assignment can turn to ChatGPT for help. With math problems, the user is provided with step-by-step instructions for how to solve them. When used correctly, it’s like having your own personal tutor who can answer follow-up questions and remembers what was already discussed.
Con: Kids can easily abuse the technology
Without working to learn the needed concepts, many kids are able to simply copy the answers ChatGPT provides onto assignments.
They may earn perfect scores, but will not truly understand or learn the subject. When the time comes to test their knowledge with an in-person quiz or project, these students may lack the competency to pass.
Pro: Kids can access information quickly
Unlike search engines where the user has to comb through links and articles to find answers, ChatGPT can provide a straightforward answer within a few seconds.
Again, the quality and accuracy of this information is not guaranteed.
Con: Answers can be inaccurate
Anything read on ChatGPT cannot be taken as truth. OpenAI even warns users that ChatGPT can be wrong or biased at times.
Questions and answers received from ChatGPT are a starting point for further research. We can teach our children to consider a variety of sources and viewpoints to properly identify biases and then form their own opinions.
Source: DALLᐧE 2 generated picture
Another creation by OpenAI is DALLᐧE 2. As opposed to ChatGPT which produces text, DALLᐧE 2 develops images.
Users can type in text descriptions of a never-before-seen picture, and the program will create realistic images and art from that. It also has the capability to edit existing images.
In the image above, DALLᐧE 2 created the image from the prompt, “A Matisse-style ballerina monkey at the beach.”
Is ChatGPT Safe for Kids?
Like all technology, there are pros and cons to ChatGPT. We’ve highlighted some of these above. Parents are the best judges when it comes to choosing what is safe for their children. ChatGPT has great benefits, but there are pitfalls to be wary of.
As far as protecting our kids from becoming the subject of AI-generated child abuse material, it’s important to be cautious of the images we as parents share online. With younger children who may not have an online presence yet, parents can make sure to only share images with real-life and trusted friends.
Older kids who have access to social media accounts need to be made aware of the possible ways others can use their images to create inappropriate content. Always encourage kids to keep their accounts private and only allow real-life friends to follow along.
With advances in technology, especially artificial intelligence, many adults worry about kids using it to cheat their way through classes. We can help mitigate this risk by discussing our children’s school work with them.
Parents can continue to educate their children and teach them digital citizenship. Encourage kids to always check multiple sources to identify biases before deciding on the facts.
How can parents help children navigate the use of AI? Let us know in the comments!