Six Ways AI Can Help You Parent (and Five Ways It Won’t)

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For years, the media has been warning me that artificial intelligence will soon take over my job. Several years later, I’m somehow still out here making a living as a writer, perhaps because AI can’t always be trusted to do the job well.

Obviously, AI can’t take over for me as a parent either, but I was curious how the technology could help me with the job I don’t get paid for: being a dad to two cool kids.I started doing some research and discovered there are plenty of practical uses for AI in the parenting realm. However, there are also some things AI can ostensibly do that made me think twice about what the innovation is capable of.

Here are some sensible uses for AI to help you with your caregiver duties and others that seem, as my 7-year-old is fond of saying, a bit “sus.”

Use AI for: Conversational prompts

Suppose you need help to start a meaningful conversation with your child or are trying to figure out where to begin with a sensitive topic. In that case, AI can be a useful tool to initiate a discussion. However, it’s crucial to remember that AI is just a tool—don’t expect your child to open up to you solely because you used a script generated by a computer program. You need to be actively involved and verify the suggestions the AI provides, and then put them to use while meaningfully connecting with your kid.

Don’t use AI for: Parenting advice

AI is not a substitute for your role as a parent. While some tools, such as Oath Care, are helpful to mothers in the early stages of child care, you should find a parenting style that best fits your family and your values. Since AI doesn’t know you or your child first-hand, the information and advice it offers might not fit your temperament or style. 

Use AI for: Creating bedtime stories

As someone who makes up silly bedtime stories for my boys on the fly, I occasionally need help hand crafting a compelling yarn to get them to sleep. You can use programs like Hypotenuse to write a story for you. All you need to do is give it some details to get started.

Don’t use AI for: Telling a bedtime story

Children crave the unique touch that only a parent can provide in a bedtime story. They yearn for your voice, expressions, and personal touch. No computer program can replicate that. It’s your presence that gives the words life and captivates their imagination. 

Use AI for: Meal planning and recipes

If you and your family are tired of takeout but don’t have the time to plan meals, AI can help. For instance, you can use ChatGPT to generate meal ideas based on the ingredients you have on hand. According to this report, you can enter a few prompts into the free version to help generate breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for your family without searching everywhere for a recipe. However, it’s important to note that these tools are imperfect and may not always provide the most suitable meal options for your family’s preferences and dietary needs. 

Don’t use AI for: Grocery shopping

Reports say we’re nearing a point when robots will be able to grocery shop for us. That sounds cool, but as someone who frequently uses the Target app to order groceries, I currently can’t get a human to pick out a properly ripe banana, and I I doubt a robot will be able to do much better. Having AI do my grocery shopping also removes any sense of discovery from the experience, meaning my kids and I might never know about a new product on the shelves.

Use AI for: Keeping track of your child’s milestones

Any pediatrician will offer plenty of checklists to help parents track their child’s development. However, getting your kid in for a checkup can take a while. For parents concerned about their child’s development, there are AI apps to keep track of cognitive, social, and language development milestones. Some could even help detect autism early on. Many of these programs have yet to be clinically evaluated, but they do sound promising, so don’t take the results as gospel, but do compile them to discuss with your pediatrician.

Don’t use AI for: Making important parenting decisions

Using AI to save time or make more informed decisions seems perfectly reasonable. However, using the technology to help you decide if it’s time for your child to, say, have a social media account, or if they should be homeschooled feels a bit off.

An AI program such as Bottell may claim to offer personalized advice for you and your child, but only you know what’s suitable for your offspring. AI is not a substitute for your own judgment and understanding of your child’s needs and circumstances. 

Use AI for: Finding games and crafts for your kids

If a rainy day has ruined outdoor plans, parents can use Chat GPT to generate ideas for bored kids. Ask the program for ideas for games, science experiments, puzzles, and crafts that families can do indoors. You can even ask it to give them an educational bent so children can learn something while they have fun.

Don’t use AI for: Playing with your kids

They want to play with you, not a computer.

Use (and don’t use) it for: Tutoring

This one is a tough call. While Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, shared his belief in a popular TED Talk that AI can be used as an educational tool to tutor kids worldwide, The Wall Street Journal found that his AI-powered education bot Khanmigo often couldn’t perform basic math. A company spokesperson told reporter Matt Barnum that upgrades were made to improve the bot’s accuracy.

If you don’t remember how to do the math your child is struggling with, you can consider asking an AI for help describing how to solve a problem—but given that Khan Academy emphasizes to educators that the technology isn’t perfect, you’ll still need to double-check the figures and formulas on your kids’ homework for the time being. 

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