Apps are playing an increasingly important role in schools.
“Edtech apps have become incredibly popular. Part of it was the pandemic,” said Kris Astle, an education strategist at SMART Technologies. The company grows technologies that help teachers collaborate with students.
However, with this growing use, there are some security concerns.
A recent study found that 96% of K-12 edtech apps share children's personal data with third parties, according to Internet Safety Labs. The December 2022 report sampled 663 schools in all 50 states.
About 78% of the time this personal information was shared with advertising and monetization entities, the report found.
“When we think about bringing apps into the classroom for kids, it's really understanding what data is being collected, where is this data going, and what is the potential risk that we’re opening our kids up to,” Astle said.
She said there’s a balance between using apps to maximize the learning experience and learning about the apps themselves.
“One of the things we can do to protect this data and protect students is to think about the tools that are being used and make sure we’re not duplicating functionality. Any time we have multiple apps that are doing the same thing, that’s more information out there in more spaces,” said Astle.
Experts say parents and school administrators should consider the following when it comes to data privacy:
- What data is being shared
- Where is it being stored
- Is it encrypted
- How long is it stored for
“Can I have my data erased? If I leave the district and my student is no longer using this tool, do I have the ability to do that,” Astle said.
Next time you download an education app, make sure to ask questions about your privacy.