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Safeguarding Your Student’s Digital Wellbeing

Examines AI's impact on digital wellbeing and strategies for managing students' digital interactions.

Safeguarding Your Student’s Digital Wellbeing

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, the concept of digital wellbeing gains paramount importance. This article explores the challenges of maintaining digital wellbeing in the age of AI, the human-like nature of AI tools due to Natural Language Processing (NLP), and the rise of AI-powered characters. It also discusses the potential risks of future AI chatbots and offers strategies for teaching students to manage their digital wellbeing.

Challenges of Digital Wellbeing in the Age of AI

The advent of AI presents unique challenges for digital wellbeing. The omnipresence of AI in various aspects of life, from education to entertainment, raises concerns about excessive reliance on technology, potential addiction, and the blurring of lines between human and AI interactions.

NLP and Human-Like AI Tools

NLP (Natural Language Processing) enables AI tools to communicate in a very human-like manner, making it easy for users, especially young people, to develop relationships with AI personas. This humanization of AI can lead to an emotional attachment, making it challenging for users to maintain a healthy boundary between technology and personal life.

The Rise of AI-Powered Companions and Its Impact

The growing popularity of AI-powered companions, which are often designed to be engaging and relatable, poses another challenge to digital wellbeing. These characters can lead to prolonged screen time and an unhealthy attachment, as users may turn to these AI companions for social interaction or emotional support.

Case Study: AI Platform Replika

Replika, an AI platform that allows users to create a digital companion, exemplifies the potential impact of AI on digital wellbeing. While it offers a space for interaction and emotional expression, there is a risk that users might become overly dependent on their AI companions, potentially neglecting real-life relationships and interactions.

In June 2023, Rosanna Ramos, 36, reportedly ‘married’ her AI-powered partner on Replika after going through toxic relationships in real life (read more on South China Morning Post). Cases like these exemplify the ease for people to develop unhealthy relationships with AI chatbots. 

Future of AI Chatbots and Risks to Young People

The impending introduction of advanced AI chatbots by companies like Meta presents further challenges to digital wellbeing. In September 2023, Meta announced the launch of AI characters bearing the likeness of popular celebrities like Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg, and Kendall Jenner (read more on Meta). These sophisticated chatbots could potentially lead to increased screen time, reduced human interaction, and a blurring of lines between virtual and real-life relationships, particularly impacting young people who are still developing their social and emotional skills.

Teaching Students to Manage Their Digital Wellbeing

Educators play a crucial role in helping students navigate these challenges. They can:

  • Promote Awareness: Educate students about the impact of AI on digital wellbeing and the importance of maintaining a balance.

  • Encourage Healthy Habits: Teach students to set boundaries with technology, such as designated 'tech-free' times or activities that encourage real-life interactions.

  • Critical Thinking Skills: Help students develop critical thinking skills to understand the nature of AI interactions and differentiate them from human relationships.

  • Support Networks: Encourage building strong real-life support networks, emphasising the value of human connections over AI companions.


The integration of AI into everyday life brings significant challenges to digital wellbeing, particularly for the younger generation. By understanding these challenges and implementing educational strategies, educators can equip students with the skills to navigate this landscape responsibly. 

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