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A service for researchers · Saturday, May 18, 2024 · 712,710,171 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

Unboxing AI with the next generation

Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are just about everywhere, all the time — and that’s even more the case for the younger generation. We rely on apps, algorithms and chatbots to stay informed and connected. We work, study and entertain ourselves online. We check the news, learn about elections and stay informed during crises through screens. We monitor our health using smart devices and make choices based on the results and recommendations displayed back to us. Very few aspects of our lives evades digitization, and even those that remain analog require intention and mindfulness to keep it that way.

In this context and with the rise of AI and a growing generation of teens relying on the internet for learning, entertainment and socializing, now more than ever, it’s important to find ways to involve them in conversations about how technology influences their lives, their communities and the future of the planet.

Tech isn’t all or nothing — it’s something in between

The message adults used early on when it came to discussing technology with teens was “don’t.” Don’t spend too much time on your phone. Don’t play video games. Don’t use social media. This old-school method proved ineffective and, in some cases, counterproductive.

More recently, things have changed, and in some cases, adults have welcomed technology into their homes with open arms, sometimes without critique or caution. At the same time, schools have put great emphasis on training teens in web development and robotics in order to prepare them for the ever-changing job market. But before slow-motion running on a beach into a full embrace with technology, pause for a moment to reflect on the power of what we hold in our hands, and consider the profound ways in which it has reshaped our world.

It’s as if adults jumped between two extreme poles: from utter dystopia, to bright and shiny techno-solutionism, skipping the nuances in between. So, how can adults prepare to foster discussions with teens about technological ethics and the impacts of technology? How can teens be involved and engaged in conversations about their relationship to the technologies they use? We share the future with younger generations, so we need to involve them in these conversations in meaningful ways.

Teens don’t just want to have fun, they want to talk about what matters to them

At Tactical Tech, we’re always coming up with creative, sometimes unconventional ways to talk about technology and its impacts. We make public exhibitions in unexpected places. We create toolkits and guides in surprising formats. But to make interventions specifically for teens, we knew we needed to get them involved. We asked almost 300 international teens what matters to them, what they worry about and what they expect the future to be like. The results gave us goosebumps. Here are just a few quotes:

  • “I have a sad feeling that everything in the future will be online, including school.”
  • “Everyone is inside all the time, they’re not outside enjoying the world.”
  • “Loneliness is a problem. Online relationships aren’t real.”

But not all of their responses were so despairing. They also had dreams about technology being used to help us, such as through education and medical advancements.

  • “Internet can close the distance gap that currently exists. Since society is more connected, cultures are more accepted.”
  • “Nobody dies. Artificial intelligence has trained on their personalities, and we can digitally bring them back to life thanks to this data.”

We also asked 100 international educators what they needed in order to confidently talk to teens about technology. Educators felt positive about our creative, and non-judgmental approach. They encouraged us to make resources that are even more playful, to add more relatable examples and to make sure the points are as concrete and transferable as possible.

Breaching serious topics in fun and creative ways

With all that in mind, we co-created Everywhere, All The Time, a fun-yet-impactful learning experience for teens. Educators can use it to encourage young people to talk about technology, AI and how it affects them. Everywhere, All The Time, can be used to create a space where they can think about their relationship with technology and become inspired to make choices about the digital world they want to live in. This self-learning intervention includes a package with captivating posters and activities about:

  • Gaming and the attention economy
  • Our relationship to technology
  • How Large Language Models (LLMs) work
  • Algorithms in everyday life
  • The materiality of the internet
  • The invisible labor behind technology

The package, created by Tactical Tech’s youth initiative, What the Future Wants, includes provocative posters, engaging activity cards and a detailed guidebook that trains educators to facilitate these nuanced and sometimes delicate conversations.

Whether you work in a school, library, community center or want to hang it up at home, you can use the Everywhere, All The Time posters, activity cards and guidebook to start conversations with teens about the topics they care about. Now is the moment to come together and involve teens in these conversations.

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