Protecting Student Data: Parent Opinions Needed

School child in headphones next to computer monitor

With iPads and Chromebooks supplanting paper and pencil, and a constellation of apps and programs being used in schools, lots and lots of student data is being created. The federal government is asking the public how that data should be protected. 

Until Monday, December 9, 2019, you can tell the Federal Trade Commission what’s needed in the Child Online Privacy and Protection Act. As the law states, 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.”

Make Your Comments HERE

If you’re a parent (and even if you’re not), here’s where your opinion is needed:   

BASIC COPPA PROTECTIONS

Right now, COPPA does not specifically protect the data generated by 12-and-under children at school. To close that gap, the FTC could require the maker of any app, piece of software or hardware, service, or platform used by your child in school to:  

-Publicly post how they protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of any data collected on your child.

-Collect only enough data they need to operate their product and never share your child’s data with undisclosed 3rd parties or use for commercial purposes.

-Give you the right to review and/or delete your child’s data.

-Give your school the ability to delete your child’s non-essential data at the end of every school year.

If you think that’s a good idea, tell the FTC to include those practices in COPPA.

GIVING SCHOOLS YOUR CONSENT

Normally under COPPA, you must give consent for your 12-and-under child to use an app, game or other online product. But the FTC wants schools to give consent on behalf of parents, which the agency has informally encouraged and is already happening on a widespread basis.

Is that OK with you? If not, under which circumstances would you allow your school to grant consent on your behalf?

Consider making these points to the FTC:

-Schools must clearly disclose all apps, services, devices and other products that they approve on your behalf, the criteria they used to approve each product, and the company’s terms of service, privacy and security.

-Schools that OKed your 12-and-under child to use a product made for children older than 12 must be stopped because that practice is ILLEGAL (even now) under COPPA.  

EXPANDING COPPA PROTECTION and PREVENTING FACIAL RECOGNITION

COPPA only protects the data of children ages 12 and under. If you think that’s not sufficient, put the FTC on notice you want kids’ data to be protected all the way through high school. 

Finally, if you don’t want facial recognition software to be used to identify your child, add that comment, too! 

Telling real-life stories will help to make your point to the FTC. Also: know this process is EASY! Just fill in the box and feel free to crib from this alert.

Be sure to comment HERE by Monday, December 9.

You can also sign this petition by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood to tell the FTC that kids need more protection of their online data—not less.

About the author: Jenifer Joy Madden is a health journalist, digital media professor, parent educator, and parent of three. Her work has appeared on news outlets including ABC News and The Washington Post and in her books How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design and The Durable Human Manifesto: Practical Wisdom for Living and Parenting in the Digital World. She also hosts the online parent education classroom, Durable U

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.

Continue reading

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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