How Much Do Parents Know About School Data Collection?

August 15, 2018

Parents are understandably worried about whether their children’s privacy is being protected. However, personal data protection rules are complex, and not everyone is aware of what they need to know. Recent surveys have found that there is a disconnect between how parents view the use of their children’s personal information and how well they understand state and federal laws governing the practice.

As technology continues to play a large role in public education, it is important for parents to gain more knowledge about these practices so they can take appropriate precautions to protect their children.

Parents support electronic records

According to a study by the Future of Privacy Forum, parents by and large seem to support the use of technology in classrooms if they believe that it will improve their children’s educational experiences.

For instance, 71 percent of surveyed parents told researchers they supported the use of electronic education records, as long as they were properly protected. In addition, parents seemed to view the collection of certain types of pertinent information more favorably than others. Ninety-seven percent said they supported collecting grades electronically, 94 percent were fine with uploading attendance records and 90 percent said it would be acceptable way to keep disciplinary records. However, there appears to be far less support for the collection of Social Security Numbers and family financial information – 35 and 37 percent, respectively.

Most parents seem aware of the potential dangers that exist whenever large amounts of personal data is stored in electronic form. They support limits on who should be allowed to access student information, with 92 percent saying school principals should be allowed to view it and 91 percent saying teachers should as well. However, fewer want school districts, the federal government, outside researchers or educational companies to see this information.

A great deal of confusion surrounds the rules governing the collection and protection of this information. Only about 20 percent of parents told researchers they knew about federal laws governing data security in public schools. An additional 24 percent knew that there were laws, but didn’t know what they said.

Child identity theft can start at school

Student privacy breaches are more than just immediate concerns for families. While people of all ages are at risk of identity theft as a result of a data breach, young people face particular difficulty because of the lack of attention that is often paid to their credit histories. In most cases, neither parents nor the children themselves are in the habit of checking to see if someone is using their identities. Often, such crimes are not discovered until the children are older and need to access credit for the first time.

The Federal Trade Commission recommended that parents limit the extent to which their children’s Social Security Numbers are exposed – including at school, where administrators may be asking for it on document where it may not be necessary. In the event of a data breach, this piece of information would be enough to lead to a serious case of identity theft.

Credit monitoring is a great tool for detecting identity theft, because it’s an ongoing review of credit accounts and credit inquiries associated with your personal information. Identity Guard offers direct data feeds from all three credit bureaus that can rapidly track account inquiries and activity to provide near real-time alerts. No one likes to be the last person to know that their data has been compromised, and with Identity Guard you don’t have to be.


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