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Report: Technology in the classroom raises privacy concerns affecting young children

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A new report, "Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy” compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) looks into how the use of educational technology raises privacy concerns affecting children in grades K-12, according to the EFF. The report summarizes the overarching theme that children as young as kindergarteners are being conditioned to accept a culture of surveillance.

“Our report shows that the surveillance culture begins in grade school, which threatens to normalize the next generation to a digital world in which users hand over data without question in return for free services world that is less private not just by default, but by design,” report co-author and EFF Researcher Gennie Gebhart said.

Over the course of two years, EFF collected responses from more than 1,000 students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and community members. The comprehensive report revealed that school districts don't disclose to parents what technology is being given to their children. In addition, school districts don't tend to off "opt out" programs for parents who wish to decline their children the use of technology in the classroom.

“We were given no information about our first-grader receiving a tablet this year,” one parent said in the report. “And when we ask questions, there is little information given at every level.”

Many parents and guardians are concerned that the collection of data on young children -- who are unable to recognize the ramifications of their online actions -- will implicate their futures.

Another parent said in the report, “They are collecting and storing data to be used against my child in the future, creating a profile before he can intellectually understand the consequences of his searches and digital behavior.”

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