September 12, 2023
Learning tools such as websites, apps, and games should collect only the information they need for educational purposes. And whatever personal information they collect should be kept private and protected. That way, hackers and data brokers can't snoop for your child's personal information. If teachers ask your kids to use specific apps or websites for school, there are a few simple things you can check:
Find out how secure the site is.
Does the URL begin with "https"? The "s" on the end of "http" means there's an extra layer of security on the website. Make sure that "s" is there both before and after your kid logs in to the site.
Do a password check.
Pretend your kid has forgotten their password. Does the site display the password or send it to them as text in an email? If it does either of those, the password is not securely protected.
Check sharing settings.
If your kid is creating personal profiles, sending messages, or posting class assignments online, make sure the privacy settings are OK. Kids (and teachers) might be sharing more than they think. You can test this by opening up a web browser you don't normally use and pasting your kid's profile link there to see what it looks like to the public.
Ask the teacher or expert.
If you're worried about the learning tools your kids are using, you can talk to their teacher, or the school's tech or privacy expert, if they have one. Many digital tools that schools use do more than teach kids—they also track performance. This can be a great way for teachers to support their students with personalized lessons.
But it's important to make sure teachers and administrators have a plan for how to use, store, and eventually delete the data they collect. Not all schools may have figured this out yet. It's a good idea to be aware of the basics you should expect from your child's school:
Personal information should be used only for educational purposes. Ask if it's really necessary for a student to share details such as their full name and age on these apps and websites.
Personal information and online activity should not be used to target students and families with ads.
Schools and education technology companies should have appropriate data-security policies, including how they store and destroy student data.
You can also see if these apps and tools have a privacy rating from Common Sense.
Common Sense Media rates movies, TV shows, books, and more so parents can feel good about the entertainment choices they make for their kids. We offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based ratings and reviews. Our timely parenting advice supports families as they navigate the challenges and possibilities of raising kids in the digital age. Learn more at www.commonsensemedia.org.