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Are AI editing apps safe for your kids?

What should parents know about the new magic art apps?

We live in the photo editing and posting era, and there is virtually no going back. Photo editing apps have been around ever since the dawn of social media platforms. They allow you to have a glimpse of what you might look like in 50 years or with pink hair. They provide not only entertainment but also creativity. The apps have been used widely by kids and adults alike.

The new trend of artificial intelligence (AI) editing apps has been gaining popularity amongst all folks on social media. The fun aspect is that such an app takes your photo and creates alternate versions and avatars in various artistic styles. But is it safe for your children?

Privacy?

The most commonly used and known AI editing app, Lensa, promises to take your image and create an avatar, an alternate self in various art styles. Sounds like great fun, right? The whole premise of such apps is that you input your photo, and the app gives you a few altered images. But what happens to all your data?

It is always good to look at the App Store/Google Play when installing a new app to check the reviews, manufacturer, and rules of use. In the case of Lensa, the app admits to collecting data as well as sharing the data with third parties.

And above all, Lensa does not have parental controls or age verification in place. Even though the app states that selfies should only be submitted by people over 13, there is virtually no way for it to ensure only people over 13 use it. How can a parent protect their child on an app that does not offer its own way to do that? Simply by relying on trustworthy parental controls to protect their child in the online world.

The privacy implications of using such an app are one thing, and another emerges when we start thinking about the contents of the app. There have been reports of hypersexualised images in the app, diluting ethnic features, slimming of bodies, and unrealistic beauty standards, which can all be detrimental to a child´s psychology.

Blind bargain art

Once you feed the app your photos, there is no way of knowing exactly what you might get back. The apps are unpredictable, meaning they might give you portraits that have been altered in such a way that is NSFW (not safe for work) or sexualised, in some instances even topless.

Even if your kid innocently uses the app, they might still face an oversexualised version of themselves. But what is even worse is that it poses the question, could others use tools like this with future malicious intent?

But even if your child is not faced with an inappropriate version of themselves, they might be faced with a “perfect” version. Social media and the online world are already filled with unrealistic expectations fed daily to our kids. But this is another level. This is their face, but “better.” Their hair, but shinier. Their body, but thinner. This might create an internal desire for the child to look like these fake versions of themselves, resulting in leaving natural beauty standards behind and creating an internal struggle to look like these unrealistic versions with no natural human flaws and with computer-generated perfect skin and features, not even plastic surgery might get them. This can be damaging to a child, a teenager, or even an adult.

Arm your kids with conversation

It is fun and exciting to create fantasy images of yourself or see what you might look like had you been born hundreds of years ago. It is also exciting to know how far technology has come, what a well-written algorithm can do, and how much it can learn. Just bear in mind anything your child uses online is a potential threat to their online safety and their mental health. Having an open and honest relationship with your child is really important. Talk to them about the threats and wonders of the digital world. Make it a world not to be feared but to be prepared for. And remember, we all have an opportunity to help kids be safer online.

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