The problem is, a lot of those electronics were being used to monitor students, even combing through private chats, emails and documents all in the name of protecting them. More than 80% of surveyed teachers and 77% of surveyed high school students told the CDT that their schools use surveillance software on those devices, and the more reliant students are on those electronics, unable to afford supplementary phones or tablets, the more they are subjected to scrutiny.
When the epidemic broke out last year, it exposed a slew of inequalities, including the millions of American families that don’t have access to laptop computers or high-speed internet. Schools around the country swung into action after minor delays and disseminated technology to allow students to learn remotely. What’s the catch? They were caught snooping on students. Of course, it’s for their own benefit. According to new study from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), “during the epidemic, schools distributed tablets, laptops, or Chromebooks to students at twice the rate (43 percent) before the pandemic, an evidence of schools’ initiatives to bridge inequities in digital access.”
“We knew that there were students out there having ideations around suicide, self-harm and those sorts of things,” a school administrator explained to the CDT researchers. “e found this . We could also do a good job with students who might be thinking about bullying … f I can save one student from committing suicide, I feel like that platform is well worth every dime that we paid for .”
Thousands of school districts across the United States have installed surveillance software on school-provided devices to monitor their students’ online interactions. If a student emails or chats with another student saying they’ve been thinking of hurting themselves or that there is trouble at home, an AI bot or a human moderator watching over the messages in real time can send an alert to a teacher or administrator, allowing the teacher to jump in within minutes and ask if everything is OK.
These programs, such as Bark, Gnosis IQ, Gaggle, and Lightspeed, can cost the schools tens of thousands of dollars to implement, and they can be set up to search for language and online behavior indicating the possibility of violent tendencies, suicidal ideation, drug use, pornography use, or eating disorders.
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