The blog

Absolute Insanity (Or Just AI?)

Just when adults think they have figured out the tech world with enough knowledge to almost catch up to teens, a whole new and seismic shift is occurring. Artificial Intelligence, as you likely have been hearing more about, is from my perspective, about to unleash a profound shift in how we pervasively function. You can bet that teens will figure out all the nooks and crannies before we know even a fraction of the possible impacts on our youth.
Did you know that AI:
Is built into social media and search engines to guide content, ads, and shopping suggestions for us based on what it learns our interest to be (you probably do- I started with an easy one).
Is able to pass the Bar Exam.
Can write term papers, research papers, resumes, cover letters and pre-answer anticipated interview questions for a job interview.
Can design lesson plans for teachers (some surveys indicate the teachers use it more than the students).
Can detect the cellular makeup of particular cancer tumors in hours to days rather than weeks, and in some cases years before the cancer even develops, enabling doctors to target treatments and prevention faster and more effectively.
Can provide teens with advice, comfort and empathic support. There is already a chat bot on Snapchat that our kids are using to seek guidance on everything from how to handle situations with friends to what diagnosis they may have based on what symptoms they share with their Bot.
Will someday be able to use various information to suggest psychiatric medications for particular patients that are likely to work best for them, eliminating the sometimes months long trial and error of medication treatment for mood and other psychiatric disorders.
Can conduct a psychoeducational evaluation to assess intelligence, learning disabilities and educational strengths and weaknesses (with the review of a licensed psychologist) and produce a report in a fraction of the time.
Can read, write, see hear and understand, speak, smell, touch, move, understand emotions, play games, debate, create, and read your mind!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When humans cannot keep up with the pace of change, it can create greater vulnerability to anxiety. We can proactively support mental health for teens (and by extension us) by generating some sense of predictability as these new and impactful changes are afoot. I think it is safe to say we are on the brink of likely one of the revolutionary eras that will change the way we teach, learn, work, play, get around, and maintain wellness.
As AI takes on more and more human functions it may even change the way we relate and who or what we seek as sources of support.  It is incumbent upon us as caretakers of teens, to learn more about AI, anticipate the ways it will change so many aspects of our lives, and begin to think about how this new technology will affect our youth. It took too many years to figure out the impacts, positive and negative, of social media on our teens. As a school counselor at the time, I felt blindsided when MySpace first came out. The start of the social media boom sent adults in a tailspin about the breech of privacy for teens and the subsequent trouble they stumbled into. We had no idea what was to come!
Thus far, research and our experience points to the great impact our human relationships have on our sense of wellbeing.  As supportive adults, we can help teens think through the ways AI can be an asset and avert potential pitfalls if we make efforts to get ahead of this technological tsunami. By creating some predictability and coping ahead, we may be able to avert some of the potential dangers and feel prepared for what is to come.  Let’s use the best resource we have to support how our teens evolve into this whole new world of AI so it does not become absolute insanity.
Additional Resource:
A Special Wish to the Moms out there for a Happy Mother’s Day!
~ Julie Baron, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW