A ChatGPT Parenting Hack You'll Want to Try

A different way to tell stories at bedtime

By Kara Murphy, Macaroni KID April 20, 2023

I'm loving this ChatGPT parenting hack Gavin Braman — a Texas dad of two — came up with and shared on social media.

If you've been living under a rock (or just living with small children): ChatGPT is the AI language model that's taken the world by storm in the past few months as users have explored its capabilities, while everyone from educators to politicians have debated its merits.

But love it or hate it, AI is clearly here to stay. So I wanted to share Gavin's great ChatGPT parenting hack, which is even more perfect because it's a bedtime hack — or as he calls it, "the most soul-crushing part of the day."

For something different, instead of reading his kids a bedtime book as usual, Gavin asked ChatGPT to write a story for his kids, personalized with their choice of character names, a location (in his case, one filled with candy and butterflies), and — this is what I really loved — added in an issue his kids were struggling with.

"So you might say, 'also include some underlying messaging about not being a jerk to your brother,' or something like that," he says. 

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A post shared by Gavin Braman (@gavinbraman)

Gavin's video isn't without its critics — some told him to use his imagination instead. Another wrote: "Or you can have a conversation with your kids about their life and their dreams."

But Gavin's take?

"We’re mixing things up, not replacing," he wrote. "...We’ve had some fun with it, but definitely not a replacement for actual books."

Gavin's video also inspired other ideas: One commenter said she was going to create a bilingual story for her child who is learning a second language. Another said she had done something similar, and her child loved it so much that she purchased a sketchbook so her child could illustrate the story.

There are, of course, still many questions and issues around safety and usage of AI, especially in regards to kids and students. But Gavin's video got me thinking about other ways you could use ChatGPT — safely — as a parent. 

I decided to ask — who else? — ChatGPT for some ideas.

Here's what it suggested:

  • Use ChatGPT as a writing prompt for your child: If your child is struggling with writer's block, you can use ChatGPT to generate writing prompts. Ask ChatGPT to generate a random sentence or story idea, and challenge your child to write a short story based on it.
  • Use ChatGPT as a language learning tool: ChatGPT can help your child practice their foreign language skills. Ask ChatGPT to translate a sentence into another language, and have your child try to guess the meaning before revealing the translation.
  • Use ChatGPT for educational purposes: If your child is curious about a topic they're studying in school, but you don't have the answers, ask ChatGPT to generate a brief summary or explanation that's appropriate for their vocabulary and age level. This can help your child get a better understanding of the topic.

I feel like this is just the tip of the AI iceberg.

ChatGPT — currently available for free (you can find it here) — is just one of the many AI language models that have seemingly changed how many people work overnight. Now it's interesting to see how people like Gavin are incorporating the technology creatively in their personal lives.