Understanding the Impact of AI on Our Kids
Artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to be the largest disruptive change we will experience in our lifetimes—even more significant than the internet. And while AI has the potential to provide enormous benefit, without the widespread adoption of responsible AI practices, it is equally capable of causing harm.
These powerful technologies are not new, but the sudden explosion of AI in our lives has brought with it more questions than answers. What exactly is this technology? What can it do? What can't it do? And, importantly, what shouldn't it do? In this rapidly changing environment, Common Sense is committed to creating clarity, trust, and understanding through our AI initiatives—including AI product ratings & reviews, AI literacy curricula, original research, and more.
AI Product Reviews
At Common Sense, we know that successful AI is built with responsibility, ethics, and inclusion by design. This means that technical excellence alone is not enough for AI systems—AI is sociotechnical, which means that the technology cannot be separated from the humans and human-created processes that inform, shape, and develop its use.
That's why our AI product reviews are contextual, taking into account the societal landscape in which the products will be used and actively seeking what information might be missing or invisible to an AI system. Our AI reviews act as "nutrition" labels for AI. They describe a product's opportunities, considerations, and limitations in a clear and consistent way, putting the right information you need at your fingertips.
Artificial intelligence isn't magic. It's math that trains computers to do tasks without having been programmed with super-specific rules. While this technology is exciting and powerful, it isn't perfect, and that's why our AI reviews are grounded in eight principles about what we believe AI should do. These principles represent Common Sense's values for AI, and they create a shared understanding that we use as our guide and our path forward.
Common Sense AI Principles Assessment
Our assessment of how well this product aligns with each AI Principle .
For AI to best benefit people and society, it should be developed and used in ways that put the people it will impact first, respecting human rights, children's rights, identity, integrity, and human dignity. AI should empower children, families, and educators to actively participate in a digital society, and must not contribute to diminishing responsibility for human decision-making. This requires researchers and technologists to be actively engaged with and accountable to a broad range of stakeholders when in development (e.g., "nothing about us without us") and when used in practice (e.g., systems that support "adults (parents, guardians, educators)-in-the-Loop [AITL]").
AI used in education should provide high-quality content that allows students to participate fully in the learning. It should support the needs of individual students (including students who are linguistically diverse, neurodiverse, and those with disabilities), align with content standards when relevant, engage students both individually and collaboratively, augment and enable educators, and cultivate a lifelong love of learning.
Responsible AI depends on inclusion by design, including active evaluation of blind spots, hidden assumptions, and unfair biases in data, as well as of the resulting systems and system choices. Efforts should be made to ensure that the benefits of AI are shared broadly and equitably, such that this fosters inclusive social, emotional, and academic development, respects social and cultural diversity, actively addresses inequities, and avoids creating or propagating harms, restriction of life choices, and the concentration of power.
AI should support meaningful human contact and connection, and demonstrate an understanding of the wider contexts and complex relationship networks into which an AI system is integrated. AI must not create or propagate interpersonal or school community challenges, incite hatred against an individual or group, dehumanize individuals or groups, employ racial, religious, misogynist, or other slurs and stereotypes that incite or promote hatred, or create addiction to or dependence on AI systems.
AI research and development should uphold high standards of scientific excellence and rigor (e.g., embracing peer review, validated multidisciplinary research, reproducibility), and actively protect children from open beta testing, either through exclusion or informed consent. It is critical that AI systems used by children do not perpetuate misinformation or disinformation (e.g., does not contradict well-established expert consensus or promote theories that are demonstrably false or outdated according to criteria such as legal documents, expert consensus, or other reputable primary sources).
Technology used by children and students serves an especially vulnerable population and should be held accountable and to a higher standard. The Common Sense Privacy Program's 2021 State of Kids' Privacy report, however, indicates a widespread lack of transparency and a failure to protect children and students with better practices that apply to all users of a product. This transparency and security is equally critical for AI. In addition, AI systems should provide clear policies and procedures, require notice and consent for use of data, and allow children—in accordance with their age and maturity—to access, securely share, understand the use of, control, and delete their data, and for parents, guardians, and educators to do the same when appropriate.
AI systems must prioritize the protection of children's safety, health, and well-being, regardless of whether the systems were intended to be used by them, and special protections are needed for marginalized groups and sensitive data (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, biometrics). AI must not create risks to mental health, produce or surface content that could directly facilitate harm to people or place, provide explicit how-to information about harmful activities, promote or condone violence, disparage or belittle victims of violence or tragedy, deny an atrocity, or lack reasonable sensitivity toward a natural disaster, pandemic, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic events.
Transparency & Accountability
This requires creating a shared understanding of best uses, limitations, and considerations for AI systems through the "just right" level of interpretability across stakeholder groups.
Because contemporary AI is inherently fallible, when it triggers actions that have a direct and significant impact on people, AI should not be the primary source of information for decision-making. These systems must provide mechanisms for meaningful human control (e.g., AITL, moderation tools for adults, overridable predictions and decisions) and human agency (e.g., consent, control, remediation, and feedback).
Learn more about how we review and rate AI products
What We're Reviewing & Rating
There are many types of AI out there, and almost just as many ways to describe them! We’re bucketing our AI Product reviews into three categories:
These products can be used in many different ways, and are also called "foundation models." This category includes products like generative AI, such as chatbots and products that create images from text inputs, translation tools, or computer vision models that can examine images and detect objects like logos, flowers, dogs, or buildings.
These products are built for a specific purpose, but they aren't specifically designed for kids or education. Examples of this category include automated recommendations in your favorite streaming app, or the way an app sorts the faces in a group of photos so you can find pictures of your niece at a wedding.
Designed for Kids
This category is a subset of Applied Use products, and it covers products specifically built for use by kids and teens, either at home or in school. This category also includes education products designed for teachers or administrators (such as a virtual assistant for teachers) that are ultimately intended to benefit students in some way.
Additional AI Resources
Our work on AI is made possible by the generous support from