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Minors and artificial intelligence: in search of critical thinking

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Minors and artificial intelligence: in search of critical thinking

“Maybe we didn’t realize it, but artificial intelligence reached kids before it reached us adults. In children’s reading the digital world is positive, but their digital is different from that of adults: they use Tiktok, Discord and Telegram, they manage to exploit the fluid language between platforms in a way that we are not able to do, they understand it, it is their normal language. There is little to teach, today they learn among peers“: is the opinion of Ernesto Caffo, president of Telefono Azzurro.

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In the digital age in which we find ourselves immersed, young people represent fertile ground for the evolution and interpretation of issues related to technology and connectivity. Caffo underlines how young people have embraced digital languages ​​in a natural and earlier way than adults. One of the most obvious manifestations of this familiarity is the use of chatbots, which children consider not only virtual companions, but real partners in personal development.

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But digital for minors is not just entertainment: “Children organize themselves as a real community, tackling delicate issues such as psychological problems and eating disorders, aware that only a few adults can really understand them”, adds Caffo.

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However, young people are no strangers to risks related to technology. The question of privacy is central to them, as is the awareness of the dangers of the internet, such as ghosting and sexting, which represent aspects intimately connected to their affectivity and sexuality. This was revealed by the “Artificial Intelligence” survey by Telefono Azzurro and Bva-Doxa, which involved 806 children between 12 and 18 years old. 31% of those interviewed see among the greatest risks of artificial intelligence a ppossible identity theft28% are worried about the privacy and due to the lack of security of their personal data. Like other elements of risk, the interviewees highlighted poor protection from harmful and violent situations: for 21% there is a fear that the images used by AI could damage their reputation and that of others. 20% of those interviewed fear coming into contact with inappropriate and age-inappropriate content, and 10% express their concern about the creation of child pornography images.

To address these issues, Caffo recalls the progetto Take it Down, the free service developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in collaboration with Meta, to allow young people to remove unwanted digital content. “It is essential – underlines Caffo – to provide them with the necessary tools to navigate the digital world in an informed and safe way. Telefono Azzurro is now a point of reference and anonymity for minors also on these issues, because they find it more difficult to contact the postal police” .

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The kids, therefore, realize that they are dealing with a complex world. Education plays a crucial role in this process. While young people are using AI for learning, on the other the school seems not to be ready to face this reality in all its complexity. “We cannot expect children not to use Chat Gpt to study, rather we must include this new approach in teaching paths, explain to them the pros and cons and how to use it as a tool to support learning. We have to reflect on the role of ethics and critical thinking in the digital world, so that young people can develop critical awareness and a capacity for discernment towards the technologies that surround them”, concludes the president.

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