Apr 22, 2024

Parents Worry About AI But Know Little About It

Parents are constantly grappling with how new technology might influence their children, from the newest smartphone features and social media apps to video streaming platforms and online games. In fact, parents have told Barna before that parenting has never been harder than it is now—and the number-one reason is technology. The latest (and arguably the most hotly debated) tech for modern parents to keep up with is artificial intelligence, which has seen exponential advancement in the past couple years.

Barna, in partnership with Gloo, is continuing to explore thoughts and feelings about AI and the wide-reaching implications of the technology. Overall, nearly three in four parents (72%) are concerned about AI’s impact on children and teens. So, how are parents’ perceptions about AI evolving, specifically when it comes to how their own children might engage with the technology?

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Parents Have Concerns About AI But Aren’t Actively Learning About the Technology
In a February 2024 Barna survey, parents revealed they are especially wary of AI’s safety and social effects on their children. A third of U.S. parents (33%) strongly agree, “I am concerned about the data privacy and security risks associated with my child using AI technology.” One in four (25% strongly agree) goes as far as saying that their child using AI “could negatively impact their ability to think for themselves.”

Despite these concerns, many parents admit they aren’t actively trying to learn more about artificial intelligence. Just 17 percent of U.S. parents tell Barna they strongly agree, “I actively seek out information and resources to better understand AI technologies.”

Most parents are at least somewhat interested in educational resources or courses on how to use or understand AI (28% very interested, 45% somewhat interested). This hints that parents may take advantage of learning opportunities about AI that are presented to them, but they may not take initiative to seek out these opportunities on their own.

Guiding Parents on AI & Other Technology
When it comes to technology in general, a large number of parents express dissatisfaction or uncertainty. Half of parents (50%) tell Barna they are “not too satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the impact of social media on their child. Additionally, two in five parents (22%) say they are “not too satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with “the impact of technology on how present I am as a parent.”

This, combined with the limited knowledge many parents have about AI, shows great opportunity for helping parents navigate parenting alongside technological advancements. For those serving parents or providing parenting resources, intentionality will be key. Many moms and dads aren’t actively seeking information or even thinking about AI—most tell us they “never” (9%), “rarely” (23%) or only “every once in a while” (26%) think about AI.

With AI and its uses—both good and bad—becoming more prevalent, the need is there. Helping parents understand the technology, as well as some of the AI tools that could support their parenting and / or household rhythms, may be good places to start.

About the Research

This data is based on a survey of 800 U.S. adults, conducted from February 16 – 20, 2024. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For this survey, researchers used an online panel for data collection and observed a quota random sampling methodology. Quotas were set to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors and samples were weighted by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect natural presence in the American population.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

© Barna Group, 2024.

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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