Navigating AI Responsibly
Ten Ways to Empower Students with ADHD in the Digital Age
School is tough for many students, but for those with ADHD, it’s especially challenging. Concentrating, managing time, staying organized, and completing assignments independently can make school downright taxing. Enter ChatGPT, a powerful tool that can make it easier for kids to keep on top of schoolwork. For students, it’s seemingly a shortcut to homework success. But as experienced parents and educators, we know it’s not that simple.
Since artificial intelligence—AI—is new, studies are yet to be done on the lasting impacts it will have on students. We really don’t need any data, though. It’s already clear that relying solely on AI and copying and pasting your way through school significantly affects a student’s educational development and personal growth.
So, as the new school year gets underway, I challenge you to teach your child how to use ChatGPT responsibly (I even made a cheat sheet for you). Just as you wouldn’t hand your teen the car keys without teaching them how to drive, kids need direction to navigate AI tools properly on their educational journey.
Understanding the dangers of ChatGPT for students with ADHD
We want our children to develop a deep understanding of the subject matter, not just superficial, short-term knowledge that they’ll forget next month. We want to foster and support their curiosity and critical thinking. This is challenging for students with ADHD, and ChatGPT tempting them at their fingertips can make this even more difficult.
Students who rely on ChatGPT to complete their assignments risk getting caught cheating. And as a long-term consequence, they will miss out on developing crucial executive functioning skills. These EF skills, including planning, organization, and time management, are essential in K-12, college, and beyond. Skipping the daily challenge of completing assignments and projects independently and on time can affect their academic and professional growth and success.
Ten prompts to promote responsible student use of ChatGPT
As we navigate the digital age, we can guide our children with ADHD toward responsible and ethical use of ChatGPT. I have compiled ten ChatGPT prompts that you can provide to your child, to enhance how your child studies and completes assignments while promoting critical thinking and skill development.
1“I am writing a paper about [topic]. Create a list of ten interesting ideas to write about.”
I encourage my students to think of ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool rather than a shortcut. Getting started is one of the most challenging parts of writing assignments for students with weak executive skills. ChatGPT can help with that. In fact, I use it myself to help get started with everything from blog topics to tricky emails. It helps me move past mental blocks and return when I get distracted.
2“Explain [concept] in simple terms.”
This prompt can encourage a student to break down complex concepts into language that’s easier to understand. When a child can articulate what they’re learning about in simple terms, it demonstrates their understanding of the subject matter.
3“Write ten multiple-choice questions with one correct answer and three wrong answers. Label each answer from A to D. Do not give me the answer immediately, and only provide it after I enter it.” Grade: [ ] Topic: [ ].
ChatGPT can act as a study buddy when your child doesn’t have one. It can help them self-test, when they actively try to recall as much material as possible without looking at their notes.
4“What are the most important things to know about [topic] for a test?”
If your child doesn’t have a study guide for an upcoming test, they can ask their robot to create one. This prompt encourages concise information about a topic, ensuring the student receives a brief summary of key points. It’s important to note that the material might not match exactly what your child is learning in class, so they need to fact-check and cross-check their class materials before relying on AI-generated material to study from.
5“I am writing an essay about [ ]. Create an outline for this essay.”
This prompt helps provide a clear direction for your student’s essay. Your child can take the AI-generated outline and add their own thoughts to it. The finished product can then serve as a roadmap for their essay writing. Having a clear outline before they actually begin writing will help your child organize their thoughts and ideas in a structured manner, which is often a challenge for students with ADHD.
6“Give me step-by-step instructions for solving [math problem] and demonstrate various techniques to help me truly understand the material.”
Students with ADHD often struggle with focusing on complex tasks, so having step-by-step instructions can help them break down math problems into more manageable parts. This prompt will also provide different techniques to solve your child’s math problem to help them better understand.
7“Act as an expert in [ ]. Expand these notes: [copy and paste notes from class].”
If your child takes detailed notes in class, that’s great! If they only write down bits and pieces, this prompt will help them expand their own notes and potentially fill in any gaps or clarify any confusion on the topic they’re studying.
8“Tell me ten ways to improve memory and recall information while studying for an exam in [subject].”
This prompt can help your child study smarter, not harder. By receiving a list of possible study techniques for a specific subject, your child will get various options to experiment with and find strategies that work best for them.
9“Create a list of Chrome extensions and apps for students to improve productivity while studying.”
YouTube and group chats provide plenty of distractions while students are studying. This prompt can help your child improve their productivity by leveraging the technology on their phone or laptop to enhance their focus, time management, organization, and other essential study skills.
10“You are a prompt generator that creates the best prompts to get the best possible answers. Generate a prompt that [ ].”
It’s easy for kids to feel stuck while doing homework. ChatGPT can help them, even if they’re not exactly sure how to ask. Your child can find the answers they need by asking for a prompt specific to their needs. This prompt also promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills, since students must consider the most effective way to phrase their requests.
THESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE WAYS students can use artificial intelligence sensibly. By taking time to have open discussions on how to use ChatGPT, you’re helping your child learn how to navigate this new world responsibly and honestly.
As a former teacher, author, and speaker, Ann Dolin, MEd, is committed to equipping parents and students to succeed academically and enjoy the K-12 journey together. Since 1998, her team at Educational Connections (https://ectutoring.com/) has helped thousands of kids overcome obstacles and achieve goals through one-to-one tutoring, test prep, executive function coaching, and college consulting. Dolin is an expert on academics and ADHD. She was a board member of the former Washington, DC, chapter of CHADD, has spoken several times at the annual CHADD conference, and has been featured in the Washington Post and Parents Magazine. She serves on the editorial advisory board of CHADD’s Attention magazine and on the board of the International Dyslexia Association.