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Are Parents aware of the cybersecurity risk regarding school-issued devices?

COVID-19 has forced educators to hurdle learning challenges and create unique breakthroughs in delivering educational content. In addition, the pandemic has added new tools such as tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices to extend the classroom environment from campus to home. As a result, many schools have made mobile devices available for students K-12, bridging the communication gap between students, teachers, and parents, removing the need to issue textbooks and printouts, and increasing learning productivity while reducing unnecessary close-contact interactions. However, as we move towards a new learning path of in-person and hybrid classroom approaches, parents have voiced concerns regarding data privacy while using school-issued devices. Zadvinskins (2021) discussed the issue of privacy and data regarding students browsing history and how the data would be collected, stored, and used in the future.

Gebhart (2017) discussed that privacy risk-protection often fell to the vendor cloud-based education provider instead of local school district policies tailored to the specific technologies used within the school district. Sander (2020) identifies that powerful cloud-based learning platforms such as zoom, Teams, and Google Meet are making substantial efforts to report external and internal security breaches. However, there is a potential shortfall in schools district need to monitor online behavior, including domestic abuse, cyberbullying, and other activities that can potentially be dangerous to the student. Parents are encouraged to engage in conversations with teachers, faculty, and school administrations regarding the plans of action regarding cybersecurity and data safety. As students move up through the school grade system, their exposure to more technology increases both on the school premise and within the home.

Chapple (2019) identifies the minimization of data collected, the identification and creation of data retention policies, and the use of data encryption both in transit and at rest are vital in reducing potential data exposure and unauthorized access. In addition, parents can petition the school board regarding properly safeguarding student data by calling for the identification and need for data protection policies. Privacy concerns become a significant hurdle as educators and parents leverage technology as a tool in today's learning environment. The benefits of leveraging technology within the classroom increase the students and educators learning experience. Integrating social media platforms in the learning environment adds another difficulty in understanding how activities performed on school-issued devices can cause harm if misused without understanding how data is handled, stored, collected, and used.

References Gebhart, G. (2017, April 13). Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Rahman, N. A. A., Sairi, I. H., Zizi, N. A. M., & Khalid, F. (2020). The Importance of Cybersecurity Education in School. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 10(5), 378–382. Zadvinskis, M. (2021, February 24). Addressing Parent Concerns Regarding Schools Issued Devices | Higher Ground Gear.

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