Australian parents say they won’t let children use AI to do schoolwork

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Over half of Australian parents say they won’t allow children to use artificial intelligence (AI) to complete schoolwork.

And with almost two-thirds of Australian parents admitting they also worry children post things on social media that could impact them later in life, it’s clear that concerns about technology are on many people’s minds.

The data is part of a survey from Norton, a global leader in Cyber Safety and part of Gen™ (NASDAQ: GEN), with the research revealing that Australian parents – many of whom already feel their children are too addicted to screens – now face a new challenge from AI chatbots and how easy it is for school students to use them to complete schoolwork.

Large language models like ChatGPT have captured the world’s attention for their impressive ability to craft short stories, write poems, and provide human-like answers to questions in seconds – a convenience that presents a new technology-related dilemma for many parents.

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The majority (74 per cent) of Australian parents with school-aged children between four-years-old and 17-years-old say they would not allow or trust their children to use AI to complete schoolwork.

However, nearly two in three respondents (59 per cent) with children under 18 years of age said their children go online independently, for either fun or education. This could make it challenging for parents to monitor how their children are using the internet.

“The statistics reflect a potential disconnect between parents’ expressed concerns about AI use and their actual monitoring of children’s online activities,” Managing Director APAC for Norton, Mark Gorrie told EducationDaily.

“It is important to recognise that we are more online than ever before, so children now have more and need more access to the Internet for education purposes.”

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Mr Gorrie says the survey results suggest that “while parents may have reservations about AI, they also recognise the importance of allowing children online access for education and entertainment, leading to a balance between supervision and independence”.

“Parents can be more proactive by educating themselves about AI to guide their children effectively, fostering an open dialogue with them about AI’s benefits and risks, encouraging creativity with AI as a tool rather than a crutch, and setting clear boundaries on AI use,” Mr Gorrie says.

AI can spark creativity – but shouldn’t do the work for students

“Parents can enable creative use of AI by encouraging children to see AI as a tool to enhance their creativity and learning, rather than relying on it entirely,” Mr Gorrie told EducationDaily.

“This can be achieved by encouraging hands-on activities and projects that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills, alongside AI use.”

Balancing online independence with online security

He says there are several reasons why parents may allow their children to access the online world without supervision.

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“One reason could be the challenges of monitoring children’s online activities constantly, especially as children become more independent and tech-savvy,” he says.

“Additionally, parents may believe that some level of independence online is necessary for their children’s education and social development. Also, parents may trust their children to make responsible choices online, especially if they have educated them about online safety.”

Mr Gorrie says it’s important for parents to strike a balance between allowing independence and ensuring safety by using tools – “like Norton Family” – to monitor and manage their children’s online activities.

“Regular communication with children about their online activities is also essential,” he told EducationDaily

Mr Gorrie believes parental concerns about their children having an excessive reliance on AI for schoolwork are based on fears that the technology could hinder their children’s development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

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“Additionally, concerns about privacy, data security, and the potential for AI misuse may contribute to parental fear,” he told EducationDaily.

“As AI becomes more integrated into education and daily life, parents may gradually become more accepting of its use, especially if they see clear benefits and effective safeguards in place. Education and awareness campaigns about responsible AI use may also help alleviate parental fears over time.”

Tips for responsible AI use:

  • Understand: Ask children about how they use their devices. Get involved and invested in their online activities to understand the unique risks they may be exposed to. An open dialogue about safe internet practices can help get kids into a better rhythm of sharing their online experiences openly, allowing parents to address challenges early on.
  • Educate: Talk to your children about the most ubiquitous online threats such as cyberbullying, screen addiction, and grooming, and arm them with the ability to spot these risks. Help children understand the pros and cons of using AI tools for education or fun and have a go at some of these tools together.
  • Curate: Curate a variety of AI tools that are suitable for your children’s age. Set boundaries about when they are encouraged or allowed to use those tools.
  • Take charge: Install safeguards such as cybersecurity software on digital devices at home. Cyber safety plans such as Norton Family and Norton 360 Premium offer a range of features to help parents monitor their children’s Internet usage and help keep everyone’s data and devices safe.

Parents wonder if schools are doing enough to help children use AI positively

The survey’s findings showed 50 per cent of all respondents with children 17 years or under trust school technology policies and online security measures, while 10 per cent of parents with school-aged children believe schools are not doing enough to educate and protect children from online threats.

“AI is redefining the boundaries of education, and Australian parents are dealing with the challenge of striking the right balance,” says Mr Gorrie.

“There is no denying the convenience of AI generated tools, but many Australian parents are set in their decision not to allow AI for schoolwork, fearing it might affect their children’s development as independent thinkers. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important to be proactive and equip children with the skills to navigate AI responsibly.”

Protecting privacy on social media

Even though parents are concerned about online risks for their children, the data showed 72 per cent of respondents are confident they know enough about online safety to keep their families safe. This confidence is perhaps reflected in how Australian parents place a premium on privacy – even while they share their children’s lives on social media.

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Of the 38 per cent of respondents with school-aged children who post photos of their kids, 77 per cent are careful about features in the picture that identify the school, and 79 per cent are careful about things in the picture that identify their children’s home.

91 per cent of respondents who post photos of their children online use privacy settings, and 84 per cent of respondents who share photos of their children online have strict privacy settings on their social media accounts to ensure they share only within their network.

Of the parents who have posted photos of their children online, 81 per cent of them do so on Facebook, 49 per cent on Instagram, and 12 per cent utilise Snapchat for that purpose.

“It’s encouraging to see that Australian parents in general seem vigilant about what they post online about their children,” Mr Gorrie says.

“Photos of kids online can attract the attention of predators who might use the information for malicious purposes, as they inadvertently reveal information about a child’s location, routines, and daily activities. Furthermore, once photos are posted online, parents lose control over how those images might be used, shared, or manipulated by others.”

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Real-world protection in an increasingly online existence

It’s a reality that can be managed with careful consideration, he says, to help enable families to explore the online world, without revealing too much of their personal one.

“Parents nowadays also need to juggle the fine line between allowing children to explore the internet while protecting them from online threats.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]