Protecting Student Data: Parent Opinions Needed

School child in headphones next to computer monitor

With iPads and Chromebooks now supplanting paper and pencils in many schools, and students using a constellation of apps and programs, a unique digital footprint is being created for each child —one that could follow them for the rest their lives. But if you act now, you can help better protect students and their data.

Until Monday, December 9, the Federal Trade Commission is asking the public what should be added to the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. COPPA “prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in connection with the collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from and about children [aged 12 and under] on the Internet,” as the law states.

COMMENT HERE TO THE FTC

Whether you’re a parent or not, this is how to make a comment and why your opinion is needed now:   

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People Power plus Tech Support Enhance a Community: The NoVi Trail Network Story

Filled bike racks at Wolftrap Elementary in Vienna, Virginia

Many are puzzling over how digital technology can be designed to work more for us than against us. But countless such tools already exist to do thatit’s just a matter of how we use them. This is a personal example of how individuals orchestrated our public-serving governmental entities and digital creations to improve a community’s quality of life.

On a beautiful day in 1999, a few years after we moved to our newly-built suburban neighborhood near Washington, D.C., I got the urge to walk with my six-year-old son to a nearby park.

This was no ordinary destination, but the serene and meticulously cared-for Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, the only such facility in all of northern Virginia.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Though barely a mile long, the walk itself was tough. We fought through tall grass along winding Beulah Road—surely trespassing on other people’s yards. As we trudged ahead, we noticed a trampled area, replete with the fresh detritus of a car accident.

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Parents Go Legal on Austin Schools over Student iPads

"We Need to Know" Graphic by EISD Parents for Responsible Use of Technology in School Facebook Group

The mother of a 6-year-old who accessed photos of topless women on his school-issued iPad believes his Austin,Texas school system has not done enough to protect students, so she and other parents are taking legal action.

At a board meeting of the Eanes Independent School District, Meaghan Edwards used the Texas public information act to request terms of service for every website, app, and software product used by district students during the last and next school years.

“If you’re following the rules, these questions will be easy to answer,” Edwards said at the June 16 meeting. Because it was an open forum, board members did not respond with comments.   

So That Parents May Understand

Two separate public information requests were submitted. The more detailed posed dozens of questions Edwards and others hope will Continue reading

Parents Didn’t Need to Think Much About Attachment Until Now

Father lovingly feeds baby a bottle

Babies and their loving caregivers are naturally attracted to each other. Feeding a baby is a sacred time when lifelong bonds develop through tender caresses, late-night murmurs and loving, long glances.

But there’s competition now. A spare moment is an opportunity to catch up—with email, social media, and other digital demands on our attention.

Yet, a child’s vital need for Attachment remains. Without secure attachment, a baby can grow up more anxious and less durable in the long run. Without the opportunity to closely study a caregiver’s mouth and expressions, language development can lag. A child could miss out on learning the vital skill (for survival in life and in business) of learning to read faces.

Research is beginning to indicate that if the view of a caregiver’s face is blocked by a device or if a very young child is left to spend too much time in a 2-D screen environment, the trajectory of brain development can be altered, as in the newly-discovered syndrome seen in toddlers, Virtual Autism. Continue reading

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