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How Social Emotional Learning Helps Students in the Age of AI


AI is here and is becoming a fundamental part of our everyday lives. With recent and projected advances in AI, this perpetually evolving technology is only going to become more integral in everything we do. But the rapid proliferation of AI, especially in education and in work settings, has led to a remarkably high level of anxiety for many of us. According to EY, 71% of workers have anxiety over AI and how it will impact their jobs. One of the ways this anxiety can be addressed and resolved is through social emotional learning (SEL). Outside of the classroom, AI in movies, toys, and games has caused enough concern for UNICEF to develop policies governing AI and children; and the World Economic Forum has developed an AI for Children Toolkit.

AI Anxiety: What Is It?

AI anxiety, specifically in the context of school-age children, refers to the apprehension and stress that may arise from interactions with artificial intelligence technologies or the impact of AI on various aspects of their lives, particularly in educational settings. This type of anxiety can manifest in different ways and may be influenced by several factors, including performance pressure, privacy concerns, social isolation, lack of understanding, and overreliance on technology.

How SEL Can Help AI Anxiety in School Children

To address AI anxiety in school-age children, it's crucial for educators, parents, and policymakers to promote a balanced perspective on AI, emphasizing its potential benefits while also addressing concerns. Providing educational resources on AI, encouraging critical thinking skills, and fostering open communication can help mitigate anxiety and empower children to navigate a future in which AI plays an increasingly prominent role. Social emotional learning programs can help students not only better manage how they feel about AI but also prepare them for a future in which AI is prevalent in their lives and in the workplace.

Using Social Emotional Learning to Prepare Students for an AI-Centric Future

Just as SEL can help students develop the soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace and improve mental health, it can be used to help develop the necessary soft skills – or "power skills" – to thrive in the AI era. Michalis Gkontas, co-founder and CEOof NXTLVL, writes in EdSurge about the power skills that will be needed in the future, to manage an AI-infused society. He explains:

Power Skills, which include creativity, collaboration, resilience, leadership and critical thinking, make all other skills more effective. These skills have always been valuable, as anyone with a professional background can attest to. But as AI automates more aspects of the current workforce, learning Power Skills is more important and powerful than ever.

Michalis Gkontas

Social emotional learning provides the foundation upon which power skills are built, and it underscores the necessity to revolutionize the way we approach education, so that we balance academic instruction with the people skills students will need to navigate future challenges. If we prepare our students properly, AI can become a sought-after tool without becoming a stressor.  

School Day is the best K-12 solution for measuring and managing student wellbeing and social emotional skills and the best means for district leaders and teachers to proactively model wellbeing in the classroom, thereby improving learning results. School Day asks students weekly questions that focus on learning, social relationships, and health. The data is analyzed, furnishing real-time insight and highlighting what's going well; resources are provided for the areas that need more attention. Request a quote for your school today!  

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