As policymakers prioritize online safety for children and teenagers, artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as a potential ally in the effort to create a safer internet and social media environment. While recent discussions on online safety for minors often overlook the role of AI, President Joe Biden’s executive order emphasizes the need for data privacy legislation that safeguards all Americans, especially kids. AI has the potential to mitigate online risks, making the internet a safer place for young users.
AI Enhancements for Online Safety:
The internet offers numerous opportunities for entertainment, education, and economic growth, but it also presents risks such as theft and malicious content. Concerns about the downsides of online platforms have dominated public discourse, with many Americans expressing skepticism about social media’s impact on children’s well-being. However, leveraging AI could help address these concerns and protect minors online.
1. Enhanced Transparency and Explainable AI:
AI systems can promote transparency on social media platforms. Explainable AI, an emerging field of research, aims to understand how recommendation systems function. By employing explainable AI, parents can better restrict inappropriate content on their child’s device, supplementing current efforts to filter and control access.
2. Real-Time Education and Safety:
AI can serve as a valuable educational tool for teenagers online. Social media apps like Yubo utilize AI to inform users about safe behavior and intervene in real-time when youngsters are about to share sensitive information. Given the vulnerability of Generation Z to online scams, AI-powered safety features can help protect them while they navigate the digital sphere.
3. AI Content Moderation:
AI monitoring and content moderation tools show promise in protecting minors online. Platforms such as Yik Yak, which initially faced challenges due to limited moderation, have successfully reintroduced safer environments through partnerships with AI content moderation companies like Spectrum Labs. Apple also employs AI to filter explicit photos in iMessage, providing minors with notifications and alerting parents when concerning messages are received.
The examples mentioned above represent early applications of AI for online safety. Continued advancements and innovative tools are expected to further enhance the protection of minors in the digital realm. AI promises to be an ally for caregivers, parents, and policymakers as they strive to create a secure online space while allowing young users the freedom to explore.
While AI cannot resolve every challenge, it offers significant potential to supplement existing tools and address online safety concerns for minors, particularly within social media environments. As society strives to preserve the positive aspects of the internet while managing its risks, leveraging AI presents an effective approach to ensuring the safety of vulnerable populations. AI tools can serve as valuable allies to caregivers, parents, and policymakers in their efforts to protect children and teenagers online.