Survey Shows Parents Want Student Data Safeguarded

Research shows that to protect students and their data, American parents overwhelmingly believe that students’ information should be more heavily safeguarded, and a majority even wonder how schools are able to access and gather such sensitive data.

Greater transparency, tighter security and restrictions on third parties and cloud services are in demand by most U.S. parents to protect data collected in schools, as suggested by a survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Common Sense Media, comprising of telephone interviews of 800 U.S. adults. As Charlie Osborne of ZDNet reports, 89% of those surveyed said they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ concerned about advertisers using kids’ personal data for marketing purposes, but six in ten said they were in the dark over how their local schools collect and store such data online or whether private companies were involved.

“What we are hearing from American families is that students’ personal and private information must not be used for advertising, period,” said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “Privacy in general is a major concern for Americans, and what we are clearly seeing from this poll is that schools should be completely off limits when it comes to collecting the personal information of students for marketing purposes. The school zone must, at all times, be a safe privacy zone. It is critical that educators, the technology industry, and our nation’s leaders establish universal best practices that safeguard students’ personal information that is collected by schools.”

How “non-educational” interests are able to access and use student data gathered by schools is a concern for 90% of adults, both parents and non-parents alike, as shown by the telephone poll. Increased transparency laws that require schools to notify parents before educational establishments share student data with private companies shows that there is a strong support for reforms. Tighter security controls should be enforced if data is stored in the cloud according to 89% of respondents, while 74% believe that third-parties should be restricting from using students’ online habits and searches to refine marketing methods.

Services including Google should face restrictions on building data profiles and demographics based on students’ email, searches and web history, according to a majority of U.S. adults. Protecting children’s safety and personal information should be priority number one, said 86% of those surveyed, and very few believed that additional restrictions would stifle innovation or be burdensome to large firms collecting such data.

Steyer believes that it is the educators’ responsibility to safeguard students’ data of which failure should result to “legislative action”.

“There is no doubt that Americans believe student information must be protected. If the technology industry and educators don’t take the initiative to protect students, there will be legislative action. We sincerely hope that leaders can come together quickly to address these concerns so that students can benefit from the powerful education technologies available without compromising their personal information,” he said.