Children in online classes: personal and behavioral data shared for advertising

Deepak Gupta May 26, 2022
Updated 2022/05/26 at 5:11 PM

It’s been more than two years since the world closed itself at home due to the emergence of a new, totally unknown disease with a high mortality rate. During this period, the world reinvented itself, teleworking became an order and videoconferencing classes a complicated task for everyone.

In addition to several problems of self-esteem, learning and personal development, a new relevant data is now emerging. Dozens of apps for online study access deliberately shared students’ personal and behavioral data for advertising purposes.

With the pandemic, thousands of children around the world were forced to use teaching applications for their distance classes. Many of the most popular applications have gained a dimension never before achieved due to this new reality. However, applications required by schools did not guarantee children the necessary security and privacy.

Child safety at stake

A recent study reveals that children's personal and behavioral data were shared with advertising companies, according to the Human Rights Watch.

The organization investigated a total of 164 government-approved applications and websites in various countries, 49 of the most populous in the world. It can be read that:

Of the 164 EdTech products analyzed, 146 (89%) appeared to be involved in data practices that risked or infringed on children's rights. These products monitored or were able to monitor children, in most cases secretly and without the consent of the children or their parents.

In addition to this information, it was also revealed that in many cases personal data were collected such as who they are, where they are, what they do in the classroom, who their family and friends are and even what kind of devices their families could pay for them. use.

Most online learning platforms still had the ability to analyze other apps installed and what they were doing over the Internet over time. Some children have invisibly marked and fingerprinted in ways that are impossible to avoid or erase – even if the children, their parents or teachers were aware and wanted to do so.

The report indicates that most online education platforms shared children's data with adtech companies, who used it not only for personalized ads but also to influence website feeds.

Many other EdTech products have sent data from children to AdTech companies that specialize in behavioral advertising or whose algorithms determine what children see online. […] These companies have not only distorted children's online experiences, they have also risked influencing their opinions and beliefs at a time in their lives when they are at high risk of manipulative interference.

Governments and schools gave the go-ahead

It is important to reinforce that in most cases the applications were suggested by schools and governments, who would have the obligation to control this type of practice.

In this study, it is also revealed that mobile apps for Android constituted an even greater danger, with teaching apps for this mobile platform sharing 8 times more personal data than on iOS.

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