September 17, 2014
By Jeff Gould, SafeGov.
Surveys of nearly 5,500 parents in 11 countries around the world, including Europe, Asia and North America, show that parents have high hopes for the contribution that Internet applications can make to their children’s education, especially when it comes to acquiring skills relevant to the modern global economy. At the same time, the vast majority of parents worry that internet companies are tracking and profiling their children’s online activities at school for advertising purposes, and they want such practices banned. Specifically, parents want stronger government regulations against online data mining in schools that isn’t directly related to improving academic performance, and they want schools to forbid such practices.
The findings are based on a series of surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014 for SafeGov aimed at capturing global parents’ views on the benefits and risks of proliferating in-school access to internet applications such as email, document creation and group collaboration.
The surveys show that:
- Two-thirds of parents are aware that internet companies are tracking and profiling their children’s online behavior and email habits at school for ad-related purposes – parents in Europe, Middle East and Africa are slightly more aware (66%) than in Asia (55%) or the U.S. (51%);
- Concern about these practices grows as parents learn more about them;
- 74% of parents want the ability to opt-out of such practices on behalf of their children.
Parents see outright bans against ad-related tracking and profiling in schools as well as stronger government regulations as an indispensable requirement for safe in-school access to internet applications:
- 88% say schools should insist on contracts that expressly ban the exploitation of children’s email for non-education purposes
- 79% support the school adopting rules of conduct forbidding outside companies to profile children
- 75% support governments passing much stricter laws giving parents complete control over what information, if any, can be collected about their children at school.
While 70% of parents say schools bear the most responsibility to deal with this issue, many also believe parents (31%), internet companies (29%) and the government (24%) have the primary role. Only 5% of parents globally place responsibility on the children themselves.
Jeff Gould has 20 years of experience in technology publishing and IT market research. Jeff currently serves as the president of SafeGov Inc.