Deepfakes are here - A parent’s guide to understanding the risks for their kids

Deepfakes are here -  A parent’s guide to understanding the risks for their kids

Categorized under: technology trends

Recently, we’ve become aware of a viral video making the rounds on the internet of Bill Hader morphing into Jim Carrey and Tom Cruise as he impersonates these actors during a television interview. 

Many people are shocked by the capabilities of technology to have this sort of stunning visualization that is so realistic that it fools the brain into believing something that is impossible.  While they may have previously been aware of this technology, a video like this really connects the dots for how this may be used in the real world.

We’ve previously written about how advances in computer generated animation produced an amazing new version of the Lion King and how there are potential risks for human talent going forward as technology progresses.

But, how many of us have really thought about the impact deepfakes could have on our children? Below, we’re going to dive a bit deeper on what deepfake technology is, why you should be concerned about it for your kids and the steps you can begin to take in order to protect them from the capability of this technology right now.

While we are still early days in terms of the future potential, it is important to understand now why this technology matters because it will become increasingly prevalent going forward. In fact, in future iterations and examples, the goal may not be to entertain but deceive by tricking you into believing something happened which really didn’t.

What is a deepfake?

Deepfake is a technique for human image synthesis based on artificial intelligence. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique known as generative adversarial network.

In essence you take a real image or video of a person and then you can leverage technology to place that image into videos that they never appeared in or scenarios that they never agreed to.

With future expected advances, you can simulate entire scenes that never happened but will appear as though they have.

Why should I be concerned about deepfakes?

From  the definition above, we can understand that one of the key underlying ingredients for deep fake videos is high quality images and videos of a person. Many kids nowadays have very powerful cameras on their smartphones. These high definition images and videos are exactly what one needs to produce realistic deepfakes.

Not only this, but one of the most popular activities for kids is to create videos of themselves and post on the various social media sites - Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok. By doing this, kids are unknowingly creating a expansive library of content that can be parsed and analyzed to create the rules for an artificial intelligence program to create a deep fake video by someone they don’t even know.

As a result, even if your child had no intention of seeding content to someone who may want to make a video, they are creating a robust image and content library from them to pull from.

Once there is representative content; your child’s face, movement and voice could be inserted into all types of video even if it’s an activity that your child never took part in.

Given the rather permanent nature of the internet, these digitally permanent videos could be the first result a prospective college or employer sees when they search for your child on an internet search engine.

Recently, we were made aware of how powerful this technology could be with a video that was able to simulate participants aging. Using an image library, participants could upload a current photo and then see how they might look as they got older.

Later those who utilized the application realized that not only had they contributed to a massive library of content but also they gave up many of their rights and privacy for the privilege of seeing what they might look like when they got older.

What can I do to protect my child from deep fakes?

Although the advances in technology are just beginning to bear fruit, there are things that you can begin to do now to protect your kids from the potential harmful effects.

First and foremost, kids need to be sensitive when sharing pictures and videos of themselves with others. The higher the volume of pictures and videos, the easier it is to take that content and synthesize it in ways that are unexpected.

Next, they need to be vigilant about monitoring their digital footprint. What sites are they posting their images and videos on? Are these well known sites with privacy policies? Or, is it a mobile application that is designed to harvest their images for potential malicious future use?

Finally, educate your kids on what is possible with these new technologies. While they may think it is fun and entertaining to post images and videos of themselves across social media, there can be risks associated if they aren’t careful. 

Instead of broad distribution to earn social capital with likes and shares, it might be better to only share their images and videos with a trusted group of friends and family. By limiting distribution, they can better guard against potential misuse and abuse by those who don’t have their best interests at heart.


Deepfakes are a new technology that is not without huge risks for kids. While initially, there is a large entertainment component to the use of this technology, we have to also be aware that this technology can be misused in harmful ways.

As kids, there is always going to be susceptibility to bullying and other forms of teasing as they grow up. How much worse would this be if there were a video that appeared to be your child do things that would be considered in poor taste but wasn’t actually your child?

We must guard against these eventualities by considering this another form of technology safety and security that we must protect our children against versus burying our head in the sand and pretending that it can’t happen to my child.

About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the Co-Founder & CEO of Digital Adventures.