Since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, conversations about the role AI has to play in education and the workforce, have been dominated by debates and discussions around plagiarism, ethics, cheating and the overall impact of such advanced technology.
So, what do the people who’ll likely be impacted the most have to say about it all? Are Gen Zs concerned about their future? Are they making career choices with AI in mind? How much do they really use AI?
In an Australian-first, we asked 576 students and young people about their perceptions and use of Generative AI and here’s what we discovered.
Gen Zs are embracing Generative AI tools.
At the time of taking the survey, 65 per cent of young people had used some kind of Generative AI tool.
And what do they like best? ChatGPT was the favourite tool across all genders and age groups, with 49 per cent of participants using it regularly or sometimes.
Half of Gen Zs use AI to experiment and for helping with their schoolwork or study, while 1 in 5 students reported using it for conversation. Plenty of tertiary students are also using AI for information searches (44 per cent).
But how often are they actually using it? Only 18 per cent of tertiary students and 11 per cent of secondary students reported using AI tools on a daily basis. The majority use it weekly (32 per cent) or monthly or less frequently (44 per cent).
Gen Zs have confidence in the accuracy of AI, but not in determining when something is AI generated.
When it comes to checking the accuracy of AI, only 66 per cent report verifying its accuracy. This could be because a majority of young people are at least somewhat confident in the accuracy of information and content generated by such tools (62 per cent).
But when it comes to being able to tell when content is AI generated, Gen Zs are a lot less sure of themselves. Sixty-one per cent of young people reported that they are not at all confident or not very confident in this.
Gen Zs accept AI is part of their future, but they’ve also got concerns.
While 68 per cent of young people are pretty certain AI tools are here to stay, almost half are worried about their impact.
Nearly one in five have reconsidered their current or future study or career prospects as a result of AI tools.
Specifically, older Gen Zs are more concerned about potential job displacement than younger age groups. Others are considering a pivot into technology as a result of the growth of AI.
So, what next?
While the majority of Gen Z reported being somewhat confident in using AI (53 per cent), plenty also said they are not confident at all (35 per cent).
This opens up space for the education sector to consider how it can implement training to better support students and build up their skills using Generative AI tools.
YouthInsight Research Director, Dr Anna Denejkina, described it as an “opportunity to safeguard student development and training in the use of a tool that may come to be ubiquitous”.
“Eighty-four per cent of Gen Zs reported that it is somewhat important or important for young people to develop skills to use Generative AI effectively for their studies at school or university, with 88 per cent holding the same view when it comes to work and careers,” she said.
“This data is a call to action for education providers across Australia to support students in their skills development while in school, and to future-proof their careers.
“As workplaces across Australia embrace Generative AI tools, the education sector must ensure that students are afforded appropriate training in AI technology (including its ethics, accuracy checks, discerning between AI and human-generated content, and appropriate prompting pathways).”