Benesse Helps Kids Use Generative AI for Summer Homework

REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration
A keyboard is seen reflected on a computer screen displaying the website of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot from OpenAI, in this illustration picture taken February 8, 2023.

Benesse Corp. will provide a service to support elementary school students with using generative artificial intelligence to do their summer homework of independent research, the firm has said. The service will be available starting July 25, the educational services giant announced Wednesday.

So that the careless use of generative AI does not become widespread, the company requires parents to be present while their children use the service.

Users of the new service interact with a robot character on a computer or tablet. When users tell the character how many days of research they have and what they are interested in, the character gives advice on how to decide on a topic and how to proceed with research.

While generative AI has benefits depending on how it is used, there are concerns about personal data leakage and the spread of false information. The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s guidelines for elementary, junior high and high schools cite examples such as students submitting papers created by generative AI as their own.

The new service encourages children to think and make decisions on their own while demonstrating the risk of generative AI citing incorrect data. To prevent students from becoming dependent on AI for homework, the number of questions they can ask is limited to 10 per day.

“I want to make use of generative AI for my independent research as much as possible,” said a fifth-grade boy who participated in a parent-child workshop held by Benesse in Tokyo on Wednesday. He had been considering the topic of his family roots, such as his ancestors, and asked the generative AI how to find materials.

The service is free to anyone who registers a parent’s name, phone number and e-mail address and will be available through Sept. 11.

Benesse intends to apply findings to future services for its members. “We hope that students will develop their ability to think independently by utilizing generative AI with safely,” the firm’s official said.