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Advancements in artificial intelligence technology have transformed the media we consume. These highly intelligent computer programs can create realistic-looking images from a few words, hold entire conversations, and even write cited essays. While programs like ChatGPT can give us simple answers to our questions, they can also hinder our children’s learning when they outsource their brainwork to an all-knowing robot. If you worry that your child is relying on technology a little too much, our Screen Safety Toolkit offers a resource guide so you can tighten up screen time supervision and management.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a language processing tool that is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technology, allowing you to have human-like conversations.[1] ChatGPT can answer one’s questions and complete various tasks from essays, to editing code, to writing emails. This software is open to the public for free, although there is also a paid subscription version with additional features.[1] Notable celebrities in technology like Elon Musk have commented on the strength of ChatGPT, stating “ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI.”[1]

ChatGPT gets its data from textbooks, websites, and various articles which it simultaneously uses to model its language to seem more human-like.[2] This AI is well-trained on biased and unbiased data and can reproduce data with reliability, something that many other similar AI systems lack.[2]

When asked to write a sentence for this article, ChatGPT responded with, “ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model developed by OpenAI, based on the GPT-3 architecture. It is designed to generate natural language responses to a wide variety of prompts and questions. ChatGPT uses advanced machine learning algorithms to understand the nuances of language and generate context-sensitive responses that are often indistinguishable from those written by a human. It has a wide range of potential applications, from customer service and education to creative writing and more.”[3] How’s that for a definition?!

How are kids using ChatGPT to cheat?

While ChatGPT’s design of being able to generate natural responses to various questions and prompts can make it a helpful tool for educational and informational purposes, it also opens it up to exploitation for other purposes. A quick Google search will turn up dozens of articles on how to get ChatGPT to write your essay for you. A student at Cardiff University in Wales shared his experience with turning in two papers, one written by himself and the other written by ChatGPT.[4] The essay from ChatGPT earned him the highest grade he had ever received on an essay in his entire time in undergraduate school.[4]

College professor and TikTok user Lilmaverick3 received an essay from one of her students that had been flagged by TurnItIn.com as being 100% written by AI technology, proving that students have already started taking advantage of the AI’s skills and ability to create human-like speech.[5] The technology is still relatively new but stories just like this will likely continue.

Cheating robs children of the satisfaction of completing their own assignments and the learning experience that comes with research. It also offers a dishonest view of academic ability, which can quickly get out of hand when teachers ratchet up expectations in response.

What Parents and Educators Can Do to Prevent Cheating

  • Research various forms of AI detectors and run your child’s papers through flagging software, this way you can see if the paper has any elements that have been plagiarized.
    • Some popular flagging software includes Writer’s AI Content Detector and Content at Scale’s AI Detector. For educators, we recommend having students turn in assignments through TurnItIn.com, this checks for plagiarism as well as how much of the assignment is AI-generated content.
  • Communicate your expectations surrounding homework and plagiarism from the start using our GKIS Connected Families Screen Agreement.
  • Sit with your child while they work on assignments to offer support as they need it, and be there before they decide to turn to AIs.
  • Manage smart devices during homework time using resources from our GKIS Screen Safety Toolkit.
  • Utilize ChatGPT in ways that allow it to be an educational tool, like writing ideas, creating to-do lists, and finding resources.
    • ChatGPT is a helpful tool for educational purposes when used properly. As a prompt-based language bot, it can be used to spruce up resumes or cover letters based on inputted job description data, help create outlines for papers based on inputted prompt data, and even provide recipes for weekly meals.
    • Promoting ChatGPT as an educational tool rather than a homework robot can prevent your child from creating an unhealthy dependence on AI software to do their work for them.

Like what you read? Check out our GKIS article “Siri and Alexa Help Kids Cheat on Homework”.

Thanks to CSUCI intern, Katherine Carroll for researching ChatGPT.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

[1] Ortiz, S. (2023). What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here’s what you need to know. ZDNET. https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-chatgpt-and-why-does-it-matter-heres-everything-you-need-to-know/

[2] Pocock, K. (2023). What Is ChatGPT? – what is it used for? PCguide. https://www.pcguide.com/apps/what-is-chat-gpt/

[3] ChatGPT. (2023, May 3). Write a few sentences on what ChatGPT is. Response to user question. Retrieved from https://chat.openai.com/

[4] Wehner, G. (2023). UK college student uses AI to write high-scoring essay, earns high grade: report. Fox Business. https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/uk-college-student-ai-write-high-scoring-essay-report

[5] LilmaverickProf [@lilmaverick3]. (2023). AI detection now automated for educators #professor #Ai #chatgpt [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRwx4R8f/

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