With growing concerns of parents about the safety of their children's private data, what role should educators play in protecting the privacy of student data? In a recent article "Concerns over Student Data Privacy Widespread Among Americans" published in The Journal (January 22, 2014), David Nagel shares statistics from a recent poll and raises questions about "privacy" as a major concern among Americans.
To quote from this article: "A new national poll released today shows that the vast majority of Americans have concerns about student data privacy and the potential use of such data for commercial purposes."
"In a survey of 800 adults conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group for nonprofit Common Sense Media, 89 percent of respondents indicated they are 'very or somewhat concerned about advertisers using kids' personal data to market to them.'"
Common Sense Media will host a summit on student data privacy in Washington, D.C., February 24. Additional details can be found on commonsensemedia.org.
What are your thoughts on this important issue regarding digital citizenship?
I understand your reservations about shopping online. I did not consider this shopping method until my older daughter shared all the wonderful bargains she found on the Internet.
I succumbed to saving money via online shopping, but I learned a good tip from a police officer who taught my high school technology students about Internet safety. He suggested that everyone have a credit card that is used exclusively on the web. That way if the credit card information is compromised, you know which card account to close immediately. Using various credit cards online makes it more difficult to protect your personal data.
So far this tip has proven valuable and effective!
While it is certainly difficult to know how and where our personal data is being assembled and re-used, such action is a fact of 21st century life. I hope someone, somewhere will find a way to guard our data and our children's data. I doubt it will happen. Marketers, designers and software moguls have too much to lose to allow this to happen.
While this may sound cynical I believe it really is not. I have used on-line shopping, on-line correspondence and on-line research for many years. I hesitate to call myself an "early adopter" but the moniker might fit... Nevertheless, I've had the occasional rift in my security, along with some nasty bouts of computer virus, I still feel confident that with a reasonable amount of awareness and savvy, one can use digital devices, internet resources and other technologies with confidence.
Lynne, your post really got me thinking about all the technology companies who collect teacher and student data. It seemed all innocent and necessary on the surface, but to think that outside companies are buying the information is scary. When I worked on technology projects at ASU we did collect profile information on teachers and sometimes students. Now, we didn't collect anything too personal but I could see other companies needing to collect more information, such as, for student management systems. I would hope that information would never get outside the company, but I guess that is being naive to think that all that personal data is secure. I did further research and found this eye-opening article in the New York Times- Group Presses for Safeguards on the Personal Data of Schoolchildren. The article stated that "Schools are sharing student data with more educational technology providers and with other companies, he said, partly to keep up with mounting student testing and reporting requirements and partly to keep down internal technology costs." Now my question is; are schools getting a kickback for sharing student data? Or is it that they have to share the data to the educational technology provider to make the program work (such as reporting grades and test scores) and then the provider sales the information to a third party?
Hi Lynne Hoffman,
I just found an article on the FreeSpirit Blog. It is called "Online Security and Privacy: Strategies for You and for Kids" by Mary Stennes Wilbourn. It can be found at Free Spirit Publishing Blog | An idea exchange for kids&#039; education. Some good ideas mentioned in Mary Stennes Wilbourn's article were:
1. Keep it private. Browse, buy, and update using the “private browsing” or “do not track” option up on the toolbar of your browser.
2. Become an HTTPS hawk. If the address of the browser begins with the URL of http or https, it is secure if there is an "s". If there is not an "s" it is not secure enough to enter any personal information (credit card, phone number, or photo).
3. Passwords are important. It is best to have several, unique and complex passwords. They should include capitals, numbers, and symbols. Do not use one password for everything.
4. Protect your email addresses. It is good to use all the safeguards that your email provider suggests. While the clutter that phishing may create is annoying, answering it can give a hacker access to more information, perhaps even control of your email account. This is one reason sites like Facebook have given users a Facebook.com email address, to help you avoid sharing your real email address.
5. Understand how your security and privacy can be breached. Hot Spot Shield may be helpful to teach kids how to avoid hackers.
6. Turn off the location setting on your devices. If and when you post a picture sharing your fabulous dinner out, or even your vacation, you are telling millions of people where you are right at that moment. You do need to turn it back on for using maps, GPS, and some other features, but the inconvenience of having to toggle it on and off as needed is made up for by securing your privacy. Consider telling kids it is to be off at all times, so others can’t track their location.