Data analytics companies are mining information about children when they are active online. Analyzing the thoughts and mental abilities of children when they are online helps them understand their behavior. The danger is that this data can be shared and sold for profit.
How Children are Tracked Online
According to an article in Politico Magazine, data mining is done when students are playing games, watching videos, read books and take quizzes. When they are working through digital textbooks, the analysts scrutinize every mouse click, every keystroke, and every split-second wavering.
While navigating educational websites, students usually leave behind information on academic progress, work habits, learning styles and personal interests. Data analyzers can also evaluate their homework schedules and web browsing habits by logging in to student locations/websites. Children are tracked even when they run laps in physical education.
Web Data Mining for Educational Purposes
Those who support the idea say that mining data in the educational sector can identify potential problems early and help children overcome them. According to a 2013 McKinsey & Co. report, increasing the use of data in K-12 schools and colleges has the potential to drive at least $300 billion a year in improved economic growth in the U.S. by improving the efficiency of instruction and education in general. Based on the conditions in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the federal government allows school districts to share students’ personal information with private companies, in so far as it is for educational purposes.
The Flip Side – Student Data Analytics for Lucrative Purposes?
However, web data analysis pertaining to children’s behavior has a flip side. For one thing, many parents have expressed concern that it violates their privacy. Private firms capture this data and sell it. Even Google had to settle a lawsuit for selling student data to be used for targeted advertising. Many other companies are found to be doing the same thing. In return for free web-based tutorials and other services to schools, these companies collect student information pertaining to students’ daily activity efforts, behavioral and nutritional records, test scores, student attendance, health records, race and ethnicity data an even economic and disability status and sell it to third parties.
While there is no solid evidence that private companies have exploited metadata or official student records, the danger is always there. If a person is repeatedly targeted with a specific advertisement or rejected by an employer, it could be suspected that their personal data was mined and sold, says the Politico report.