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We’ve heard a lot from educators, schools and universities about how ChatGPT might affect learning as we know it. But there’s one group we haven’t heard much from, and that’s teenagers themselves. This week on School Stream, we’re handing over the mic to teens from Melbourne, Byron Bay, London and France to share their thoughts on using ChatGPT for school work. Their answers are thoughtful, insightful, generous and open. The kids are alright.

A big “Thank you” to everyone who took the time to share their experience, without fear or favour, on the phone or via voice memo.

Using an app for school communication is the norm for schools all over Australia and New Zealand. With a decade of experience, an Australian-based support team and a laser-sharp focus on school comms, see why School Stream is the global gold standard.

Please note:

Names have been changed for privacy. All participants spoke to us with the permission of their parents, and this post was entirely put together by a human.

Answers edited for length and clarity.

Do you use ChatGPT or other AI for your school work?

I don’t. I don’t really feel the need to use it. I do know a couple of people who have used it and they’ve gotten away with it. They haven’t been caught for plagiarism or anything. The people who are using it, they keep pretty quiet about it. But maybe they are the ones who struggle with school a bit? We don’t really talk about it (among ourselves) unless there is an assessment. Because then it feels a bit unfair. They (teachers) talk to us a lot about plagiarism at school, in general though. So I don’t really use it for study and stuff, but did you know there’s an AI thing on Snapchat now? It’s on everyone’s phone and it is scary how much it knows. It knows literally everything; it can answer any question so quickly. Sometimes I think it’s a worry but, like I said, I don’t really feel the need to use it.

Margo, 16

Yeah, I’ve used it for school. Some teachers actually encourage us to use it. Like the history teachers encourage us to use it to find historical facts and sources. The English teachers were like, ‘no way, do NOT use it”. So I mostly use it to find sources for history. And yes, if I’m particularly late on an assignment, I will use it. The first time I saw it was on TikTok, actually, and, I was like “Wow, this actually works”. It’s pretty much out in the open, between the students. Not at all with the teachers. To be honest, I don’t think it has changed much. If you’re committed to your studies but don’t want to actually do the work, you just pay someone to do your homework… and if you’re dedicated to actually doing the study, you’ll still get there, in the manual way, I guess. So thinking about it like that, it’s not that different really. It’s just the AI thing is new and free. So anyone can use it. The things I want to do when I leave school are pretty much safe from AI. I want to work in something hospitality for a year so I can set myself up to do an apprenticeship. Yeah, I want to be a chippy. I reckon that’s pretty safe!

Stephan, 17

No, I haven’t used it for school. I did ask it to write a science essay that I’d already written in class about climate change and the one it wrote was like, way better. It knew everything about climate change on the internet. And I didn’t so… it did sound like a scientist had written it but if I changed a few of the fancy words it used, I might be able to pass it off as my own. I don’t know anyone in my year using it (ChatGPT) for school, but maybe older levels are? They have more essays and know more, so they might be able to pass it off as their own work more easily.

Audrey, 13

Would I use it?!  Never. It’s cheating! I would rather fail. At least it would be an honest fail. If I cheated, it (the work and the mark) doesn’t mean anything, anyway.

Lachie, 14

For school? No. I mainly use it to mess around really. Some of the boys I know in my year know a lot about it. There’s a thing you can do where you ask it to say the opposite of what it would normally say. Because there are restrictions, and it won’t say certain things. But if you do the opposite bot thing, it ends up saying a bunch of really controversial things. You can get it to, kind of, break its own rules.

Oliver, 14

There you have it. Straight from the source. We hope you find this as insightful as we did when we were putting it together.

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