If you have children, you are likely to worry about their safety – you show them safe places in your neighborhood and you teach them to watch out for lurking dangers.
But you may not be aware of some online dangers to which they are exposed through their schools.
There is a good chance that people and organizations you don’t know are collecting information about them while they are doing their schoolwork. And they may be using this information for purposes that you know nothing about.
In the U.S. and around the world, millions of digital data points are collected daily from children by private companies that provide educational technologies to teachers and schools. Once data are collected, there is little in law or policy that prevents companies from using the information for almost any purpose they wish.
Our research explores how corporate entities use their involvement with schools to gather and use data about students. We find that often these companies use the data they collect to market products, such as junk food, to children.
Almost all U.S. middle and high school students use mobile devices. A third of such devices are issued by their schools. Even when using their own devices for their schoolwork, students are being encouraged to use applications and software, such as those with which they can create multimedia presentations, do research, learn to type orcommunicate with each other and with their teachers.
When children work on their assignments, unknown to them, the software and sites they use are busy collecting data.
For example, “adaptive learning” technologies record students’ keystrokes, answers and response times. Online surveys collect information about students’ personalities.Communication software stores the communications between students, parents and teachers; and presentation software stores students’ work and their communications about it.