What We’re Reading: Parents Should Relax, Protecting Student Data, Facebook Ad Mishaps, Net Neutrality’s Fate

Mar 7, 2014 8:00 AM ET
Campaign: What We're Reading

Trend Micro Internet Safety for Kids and Families Blog

Week of February 24, 2014

To help you keep up with what’s going on with kids, families, schools, and technology, we’ve compiled a list of stories, tips, and insights, we’ve found most useful over the past week.  What have you been reading? Tell us below or Tweet @TrendISKF.

PARENTS, RELAX: danah boyd wants parents to think about how destructive and devastating their anxieties and stress about technology are for their kids.  Her years of research has shown that it is not helpful to look at the Internet in a utopian or dystopian way – thinking it can solve everything or it will doom us all are both unhelpful points of view.  In her new book on teen behaviors online, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, danah says we need to understand why exactly they’re online so much.  She recommends more helpful ways for parents to get involved, such as by building an online network for their kids, so when they need advice, you’re not the only person they have to turn to.  She recommends helping children build those other relationships, because there will be times their child doesn’t want to talk to you them as a parent; and, increasingly, the way these discussion happen is online.

LIMITING STUDENT DATA TROVES:  There are increasing concerns about who has access to and protects student data, particularly as more and more schools outsource its collection and management to third parties.  US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed this with educators in DC this past week.  Many states are taking up the issue on their own. California Senator Darrell Steinberg has proposed state legislation that would prohibit education-related websites, online services and mobile apps for K-12 students from compiling, using or sharing the personal information of those students in California for any reason other than what the school intended or for product maintenance.  By aiming to regulate industry practices rather than school procedures, the bill is intended to prevent businesses from exploiting information like students’ names, ages, locations, family financial situations, medical information, or even lunch preferences.

There is already a federal law called FERPA in place to protect student data.  But many critics – myself included – assert that it  badly needs updating.  I think ultimately this is where the fight and energy will go.  (Much like happened to COPPA last year).

FACEBOOK SLIPS UP WITH ADS TO/OF KIDS: Jeff Elder writes in the Wall Street Journal that Facebook’s increasingly complicated and confusing web of people, brands, and advertising caused a sequence of actions where a 14-year old girl’s photo ended up being displayed to adult men, unbeknownst to her.

Whether or not Facebook intended this, it’s becoming less and less transparent for the average user to know what any of their actions on Facebook may lead to, making it less attractive for anybody to use in the long run.  There are other examples in this article that make you wonder why you would ever “like” anything again.  This may ultimately be bad business for Facebook, if people stop “liking” anything for fear of the consequences.

NET NEUTRALITY’S FATE: U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said the Obama administration has been encouraged by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s commitments to reinstate the agency’s net neutrality rules, which were struck down in federal court earlier this year. This statement was primarily in response to an online petition with more than 105,000 signatures that asked the White House to direct the FCC to reclassify companies that provide Internet access so that they can be more easily regulated the way traditional telephone companies are. The FCC’s net neutrality rules prevented Internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to certain content, and required ISPs to treat all content equally.  The future remains to be seen, but hopefully, the outcome will not negatively impact families and schools, which is our hope.

See you next week!