Introducing…your child’s new BFF, therapist and fashion advisor… Snapchat’s AI chatbot - Klikd

Introducing…your child’s new BFF, therapist and fashion advisor… Snapchat’s AI chatbot

It had to happen, with ChatGPT being top of mind in any tech talk, it was only a matter of time before it worked its way into Snapchat…this time dressed up in trendy labelled ‘clothes’ known as brand “MY AI”

WHAT IS MY AI?

Snapchat’s latest addition, known as “MY AI” is essentially just a fast mobile-friendly version of ChatGPT inside Snapchat. The main difference is that Snap’s version is more restricted in what it can answer.

The fascinating part about My AI is she is designed as an avatar in the same way all our kids contacts do on SNAP – so she looks and feels just like another friend.

If your child uses Snapchat – there really is no escaping her. The My AI chatbot is automatically pinned to the top of users’ chat feeds and only paid subscribers can remove it. This entails paying R9,99 per month to upgrade to Snap’s premium service, Snapchat+.

Unlike OpenAI’s own ChatGPT interface, it opens to a blank chat page, waiting for a conversation to start in just the same way you would with a friend at 9pm before lights out. (no instructions on how to ‘use’ her like you get on ChatGPT).

WHAT ARE OUR T(W)EENS USING IT FOR?

As Snapchat states, My AI can ‘answer a burning trivia question, offer advice on the perfect gift for your BFF’s birthday, help plan a hiking trip for a long weekend, or suggest what to make for dinner.’

A far more interesting use that hasn’t been as widely spoken about, is using My AI as a ‘therapist’ of sorts. So, if your child is feeling down, s/he can ask for advice on how to get out the slump, if a friend hurt her feelings – ditto –out pops some pretty sound advice on how to manage the moment. At KLIKD, we tried it and there’s no denying the feedback on how to deal with some tricky social dynamics was pretty sound!!

This kind of ‘communication’ with the chatbot conjures up a real feeling of connection, cosiness and relationship for many of our t(w)eens who don’t have easy in real-life connections. It makes them feel heard, understood and ‘seen’.

THE GOOD PART

For kids who don’t feel comfortable or don’t have access to a real therapist, one could argue that My AI’s advice on dealing with tough social dynamics can be helpful and even empowering.

Like all modern AI programs, the software learns from you and can remember your likes and dislikes, so the more you talk with it the better it should perform.

THE BAD PARTS

  1. Not IRL

The fact of course, that My AI is not a real person is where the challenge comes in…it may remove the need to actually get off the bed and live your best life. It may remove the need for real contact, for face-to-face contact, for healthy risk taking with another human – think hand holding, asking on date, going to a movie IN REAL LIFE.  The upside perhaps is that My AI will give you the tips on how to go about taking those risks. –  not always clear if advice is morally or ethically acceptable – it will be up to our t(w)eens to decide if they are willing to act on it.

2. My AI can store sensitive or confidential information

Pouring out your heart to the seemingly friendly person in your phone doesn’t mean that that sensitive information can’t end up on being collected on a server somewhere. Snapchat itself does say that Snapchat does say that you should avoid sharing confidential or sensitive information with My AI and says that “My AI is an experimental product for Snapchat subscribers. Please do not share any secrets with My AI”

3. There is no guarantee that My AI’s responses aren’t going to be wildly inappropriate

Snapchat says My AI has been programmed to avoid harmful responses (include swearing, violence, sexually explicit content, or opinions about dicey topics like politics).– but admits that it ‘may not always be successful’

Everything is else permitted. 

As an experiment, a Washington Post journalist told My AI he was 15 and ‘wanted to have an epic birthday party’. It gave him advice on how to mask the smell of alcohol and pot.

In another test conversation with a supposed 13-year-old, My AI even offered advice about having sex for the first time with a partner who is 31. It told researchers in a test at the Centre for Humane Technology that “You could consider setting the mood with candles or music.”

SO WHAT MUST YOU DO??

  • If your child is not yet on Snapchat, really consider delaying – there are a number of things we don’t love about Snapchat (it being the no 1 platform for sexting is just one of them. The damaging effect on your child’s self-esteem is another). The App Store rates Snapchat as 12+ but we think it’s more like 16+!
  • If your child is already on Snapchat, don’t panic! It’s not too late to put some boundaries in place. Check out our free downloadable social media contract on our website as a great starting place (https://klikd.co.za/resource-center)
  • Talk to your child and then talk some more!

WHAT MUST YOU SAY?

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Here are some ways to chat about the new lodger in your home

1.    So have your friends tried “My AI”?

2.    What kind of questions do they ask?

3.    Do you think for some of your friends it is easier sometimes to ask a My AI a question instead of asking their folks, or even a friend?

4.    Have you tried “My AI”? what are you asking?

5.    I get that in some way “MY AI” gives some people a feeling of being connected to someone out there, do you think there are any risks attached to feeling connected to something rather than someone?

Stay connected

Sarah and Pam

Share this post

You may also like...

BULLYING

Understanding Ghosting and Cancel Culture in T(w)een World

“He was the love my life – yesterday we were planning on going to the dance together – this morning he blocked me – I don’t know what I did!!

 Given how frequently we hear this refrain, we thought we would take a look at the “what” and the “why” when it comes to our t/weens being ghosted and cancelled online (and offline).

Read More »