Younger generations are growing up interacting with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, yet little attention is paid to the impact of AI and related technologies on children.

AI holds great potential for children’s education and health but it is also a risk for their privacy and safety.

Decision-makers and tech innovators must prioritize children’s rights and wellbeing when designing and developing AI systems. Efforts should be undertaken to create AI curricula, and build AI literacy and skills of future generations.

A 2019 study conducted by DataChildFutures found that 46% of participating Italian households had AI-powered speakers, while 40% of toys were connected to the internet. More recent research suggests that by 2023 more than 275 million intelligent voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, will be installed in homes worldwide.

As younger generations grow up interacting with AI-enabled devices, more consideration should be given to the impact of this technology on children, their rights and wellbeing.

Unlocking the potential of AI

AI-powered learning tools and approaches are often regarded as critical drivers of innovation in the education sector. Often recognized for its ability to improve the quality of learning and teaching, artificial intelligence is being used to monitor students’ level of knowledge and learning habits, such as rereading and task prioritization, and ultimately to provide a personalized approach to learning.

Knewton is one example of AI-enabled learning software that identifies knowledge gaps and curates education content in line with user needs. Algorithms are also behind Microsoft`s Presentation Translator that provides real-time translation in 60 different languages as a presentation is being delivered. This software helps increase access to learning, in particular for students who have a hearing impairment. AI, though not always successfully, is also increasingly used to automate grading and feedback activities.

With such broad potential for use in the education system, forecasts by Global Market Insights suggest that the market value of AI in education will reach $20 billion by 2027.

In addition to education, AI is also advancing children’s health. In recent years, progress in research on the role of AI in the early detection of autism, signs of depression from children’s speech and rare genetic disorders has made headlines. There are also growing examples of the deployment of AI to ensure child safety by identifying online predators and practices such as grooming and child exploitation.

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