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Assuring Student Data is Protected – 3 Tips

No one is more concerned about the security of student data than parents. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy had this in mind when they created its Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, a set of guidelines that parents and school administrators can reference. An article summarizing what is in that very complete kit appears on the EdTech Magazine site entitled “ 3 Tips to Keep Parents Assured that Student Data is Protected.” The article reminds both parents and schools that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents discretion over the types of data about their children that can be used. The writers also remind parents that while teachers can help students recognize that there are consequences to the actions they take online, parents modeling good digital citizenship is by far the most important influencer.

Want to Roomba? Look Out, Your Privacy May Be Showing

Dust isn’t the only thing your Roomba is taking in…it is also recording maps of your house. Although the company is adamant that they take customer privacy very seriously and will always ask customers to opt-in to allow the storage of this information, there are of course critics who are raising concerns, especially in light of discussions about the data being sold to tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon. While this kind of data collection may be concerning, it is important for customers to understand why the data is collected and how it is being used in order to make an informed decision, as this kind of data is often necessary for establishing Smart Home networks.

Student Data Privacy – Learning Your Rights

Are you wondering what happens to data collected on your child at school? Do you know what data is collected, why, or how it is protected? One resource available online that can be useful in learning the rights of parents and guardians as part of the information gathering process is the Data Quality Campaign site

Your Cell Number – Are You Sharing It Too Freely?

Here’s a bad piece of news. Our cell phone numbers becoming a lot like Social Security numbers: they are the gateway to our identities, providing an entrance to personal data – your email address, physical address, even physical whereabouts—and all the personal information that is kept about you by nearly all corporations, financial institutions, and social media networks. Yet when we are asked for our cell numbers for whatever reason, we often give them out without even a second thought.  What can you do? Take a look at these tips and use common sense. If you are asked for your phone number, it never hurts to ask why.

Do Students Have a Right to Data and Social Media Privacy?

Many students and their parents are unaware of how schools or third-party companies are using their data -- or that it is being tracked at all. A list of the State Student Privacy Laws that have been passed is available on the The Education Privacy Resource Center site along with other resources for parents, students and educators. Also at issue is what happens to privacy on school issued laptops. Legislatures need to address this issue by looking into laws surrounding social media privacy, one-to-one devices, student information and learning management systems, and educational apps. There is also the question of how this applies to the personal technologies students bring with them to school.

How students use their own devices during personal time is subject to scrutiny by school officials as well. Social media continues to be a contentious space with murky boundaries between what’s public and private. “Is it important that students are able to use social media to engage in private conversations that are not known to the world? Yes, that is very important. Otherwise, you are depriving students of what may be one of the most critical first amendment vehicles of the 21st century,” says the America Civil Liberties Union’s Advocacy and Policy Counsel, Chad A. Marlow, speaking on social media rights for students.

Does your child use a school issued laptop or tablet? Do you know how their privacy rights are protected? Do you know what information is being collected about them? These are questions you may want to ask your school officials.

Privacy and Internet Safety Q. and A.

Where should you look when a question comes up at home about setting parental controls or whether you should post those pictures of your kids online? Try the Privacy and Internet Safety section of the Common Sense Media site. While there are research articles all over the web with information on this subject, this section covers a wide range of topics and is something you might want to add to your browser’s bookmarks for quick reference.

Tips for Combating Hackers on Connected Devices

Teaching kids about the security vulnerabilities with Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help them avoid falling prey to hackers, writes Jacob Batchelor in an article entitled You've Been Hacked! Explaining Cybersecurity to Students in an Interconnected Era. Batchelor explains ways to introduce the problem of hacking to kids, help them recognize the problem of IoT hacks, and show them what they can do to protect their privacy. Experts predict that in just a few years, interconnected devices such as refrigerators, baby monitors, toys, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, will number in the billions.

Would You Pay a Ransom for Your Data?

A recent survey administered by Carbon Black looks at consumers’ responses to ransomware, and you may find the results surprising. The study found that if hacked, 52% of consumers would shell out a ransom for their data, and 12% would pay $500 or more. It was also found that consumers are less trusting of retailers with their data than they are of banks and health care providers. Furthermore, the majority of consumers believe the responsibility is on the individual businesses to keep their data safe, ahead of cybersecurity companies/cybersecurity software vendors, software providers (Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc.), and government organizations (FBI, NSA, CIA, etc.).

Your Kid’s Privacy and Why You Need To Care About It

Let’s not fool ourselves, the Internet is a downright scary place, and because of its universal nature, the whole world – the good and bad parts – are at your door every single day. What can you do to protect the privacy of your children? A recent article on the Common Sense Media site entitled 7 Reasons Parents Should Care About Kids and Online Privacy outlines privacy invasion situations every parent needs to be prepared for and offers common sense tips on how to handle them.

Harvard Rescinds Admission To Students After Explicit Posts on Facebook

This generation going off to college next fall may be “digital natives,” but some of them certainly have a lot to learn yet about digital etiquette, safety, and privacy.  Harvard College canceled admission offers to at least ten prospective students of the Class of 2021 because of racist and sexually explicit memes they posted in a private Facebook chat, according to the a recent report. The individuals were informed in April that their admissions offers to the prestigious Ivy League institution were under review, then later rescinded, because they had posted memes mocking the Holocaust, sexual assault and child abuse, among other topics, in a private Facebook messaging group that was formed late last year, according to The Harvard Crimson. This incident certainly should be part of all parents’ discussion about how nothing you post is really private online and anything you post, no matter how exclusive the group, can come back to haunt you.

Pet’s Names Passwords – It Better Be a Good One!

Is your pet’s name your “usual” password online? If so, you are not alone - but in using your pet’s name or some variation of it, you may make it easier for hackers to access to your online accounts. To bring awareness to this issue, behavioral biometrics company, BehavioSec, teamed up with animal charity Bideawee to highlight five adoptable pets with hacker-proof names that are easy to remember, because as the cartoon of a man introducing his son to the new family puppy on the BehavioSec site points out “You can name her whatever you like, but be sure it is something you can remember. You’ll be using it as a security question answer for the rest of your life.” 

Tips for Guarding Against Ransomware

A report from Kaspersky Lab has revealed that mobile ransomware attacks increased globally during the first quarter of 2017 by 253%, evidenced by the recent WannaCry attack, and with the US being hit the hardest. Four ways users can better protect themselves are outlined in an article on the TechRepublic site, and includes advice such as doing regular scans on devices to check for infection and never entering personal information into a website that seems at all suspicious. Additional tips for protecting yourself were also recently discussed in an article in the Tech Section of The New York Times entitled How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks.

Instagram, Snapchat and the Mental Health of Teens

A survey done in the UK by #StatusofMind, part of the Young Health Movement and Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), indicates that overuse of the more image driven apps such as Instagram and Snapchat may be affecting the mental health of young people. While YouTube came out as having the most positive impact of all the well-known social media, Instagram and Snapchat came out in the study of 1,479 teens and young adults as fostering feelings of inadequacy and anxiety among youths who engage often with them. Experts commenting on the study reminded both professionals working in the field of teen mental health and parents that “it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Living Life Without Filters

“If Beyoncé thinks her body needs to be edited, what on Earth does mine need?” writes teenager Sarah Kendrick in a commentary on the KQED site (a National Public Radio/ Public Broadcasting System affiliate). As Kendrick points out, it takes courage to buck the pressures of social media and post real, unaltered, “unPhotoshopped” images of oneself online. She goes on to challenge other teens to ditch image-editing tools and embrace the beauty of their imperfect, natural selves.

New Guide for Parents on Data Privacy

A new guide from Parent Coalition for Student Privacy aims to help parents take a more active role in evaluating the use of students' data by schools. The downloadable toolkit describes questions parents should ask about data security measures and how to identify "red flags" in service agreements with education technology providers. It enumerates parents’ rights and offers tips for parents looking to protect their children’s privacy.

Edmodo Hack Revealed

A recent hack of the educational platform Edmodo compromised tens of millions' user records and led to the revelation that the company was not only using ad trackers to monitor student and teacher behavior, but then forwarding the data to data brokers. The company issued a statement saying it is investigating the security breach and it has removed the "problematic" ad-tracking code from its platform. Edmodo is a platform that 78 million teachers, students and parents use to communicate about homework and lesson plans, and more.

Is Bullying on the Decline?

Bullying in schools is on the decline, but still, 1 in 5 middle- and high-school students reports being bullied, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department. Data show a higher rate of bullying among some student groups including thirty-four percent of students who identified as LGBT complaining of bullying, compared to 19 percent who identified as heterosexual. David Osher, vice president at the American Institutes for Research

noted that campaigns to raise awareness can only help so much in helping to fight all kinds of bullying. He called for programs that build empathy and self-awareness, provide support for students who have mental health problems, and foster a positive climate in schools.

Students Suspended for Liking Instagram Posts

Four students in California are suing their school district after they were suspended for "liking" racist posts on Instagram. At issue is whether the action infringed on students' free-speech rights since the responses to the posts were input off campus. Schools have broad authority under federal law to limit speech at school that they consider disruptive, according to First Amendment scholars, but courts have disagreed about whether schools can punish students for off-campus speech that causes disruptions at school. As critics also point out about this generation, “Likes” are ambiguous and could signify agreement, but also just as likely, disagreement, with a nod to the right to speak freely, making this yet another topic to discuss with your children.

The Unobvious Consequences of Plagiarism

Teaching children not to plagiarize is sometimes not as easy as just having a discussion. It is a crime as old as the first pictograph and to kids, it often seems a victimless crime or one they don’t completely understand because there are so many different kinds of plagiarism . What other persuasions can you add to your argument beyond “just don’t do it?” Take a look at the 15+ Unobvious Consequences of Plagiarism in Academia on the site to see what teachers from all levels of education have to say on the subject.  Some remind kids that the loss of reputation is everything. Others talk about how it is a killer of creativity, and that students should learn to value their own thinking and learning. The final remarks of one commentator reminds kids that broken trust between students and teachers is very hard to repair.

Facebook Can Tell When Teens are Feeling Down and Out

Leaked documents from Facebook's team in Australia allegedly show the social giant's ability to identify teens who feel "worthless," "useless," "stressed," "silly," "stupid," and "defeated" and then, at least in one case, help advertisers to target ads to them. The leaked documents, the subject of an article in an Australian newspaper, also detailed how advertisers could use Facebook's algorithms to find teens who were interested in "working out and losing weight" and promote health products. Facebook's team in Australia was reportedly looking to capitalize on the 6.4 million teens that use the social network in their geographic region. Facebook denied the allegations and called the article's premise "misleading". 

"Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state," the social network said in its official response on Sunday. "The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook.” According to the response, the research results were never used to target ads and were based on data that was anonymous and aggregated. Critics, however, worry that the emotional state of those who use the social network may now become a new commodity to be bought and sold.