Browse all articles

How safe are the devices in your kid’s school and home?

From VR to smart toys, learn about the many ways that technology touches kids today.

You have a list of your child's teachers and classes. You've figured out the bus schedule or carpool arrangement. You've even glanced at the lunch schedule. But how about this one: Do you know what technology your kid will -- or will not -- be using in class or to complete homework assignments? There's more than one reason you might want to find that out.

Schools have embraced technology for teaching, testing, and even taking attendance. And for many parents, that feels like just another part of life where tech is taking over, for better or for worse. At Common Sense, we know how hard it is to keep up on all of the latest changes, especially those happening in the classroom. That's why we have long championed student privacy and why we just released a policy brief, Inside the Kids' Privacy Zone -- we want to help parents, and policymakers, better navigate this increasingly changing world.

For more than a decade, we have helped kids, families, educators, businesses, and lawmakers navigate the rapidly changing technology world, including protecting kids' privacy. Since we started, technology has morphed, moving from family television screens and clunky laptops to tiny screens and sensors embedded in our clothes and toys. Our latest publication looks at many ways technology touches kids today:

  • Smart toys and smart homes.
  • Virtual and augmented reality.
  • Digital citizenship and digital footprints.
  • Targeted ads.
  • Edtech -- the apps and services used in classrooms.

While specific technology may change, our guiding concepts and animating principles remain the same: Kids and teens should not be tracked and targeted, and they should have control over their personal information. Companies should compete on privacy and build it into their products and services from the ground up. We need better privacy and security protections across platforms, whether those are websites, smartphones, or smart teddy bears. And we all need to better educate ourselves about online privacy and digital literacy.

Parents deserve to know about the constant efforts to collect and mine their kid's information, including by many educational apps and services kids use in schools. This isn't all nefarious. In many instances, kids' information is collected to create a more effective learning tool or to provide high-quality content at a low cost. But data collection and analysis are happening, and not always with the best interests of our kids in mind. Similarly, policymakers have a responsibility to help establish strong baseline protections for our children and teens, who are particularly vulnerable. These protections can provide rules of the road and certainty for companies, as well as peace of mind for families. And these special protections for youth have long been supported in public policy.

With the start of the school year, we understand that most parents have enough on their plate. But we also believe that, working together, families, schools, policymakers, and industry can lead the way to commonsense solutions to protect our kids.

We hope you find this report helpful. You can stay informed about privacy and get smart tips here. And good luck with the start of the school year.

Kids Action