The Conversation: How companies learn what children secretly want

Here.  Op-ed by Faith Boninger, Research Associate in Education Policy, University of Colorado, and Research Professor, University of Colorado.  Excerpt:

In the U.S. and around the world, millions of digital data points are collected daily from children by private companies that provide educational technologies to teachers and schools. Once data are collected, there is little in law or policy that prevents companies from using the information for almost any purpose they wish.

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Almost all U.S. middle and high school students use mobile devices. A third of such devices are issued by their schools. Even when using their own devices for their schoolwork, students are being encouraged to use applications and software, such as those with which they can create multimedia presentations, do research, learn to type or communicate with each other and with their teachers.

When children work on their assignments, unknown to them, the software and sites they use are busy collecting data.

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When “screen time” is required for school, parents cannot limit or control it. Companies use this time to find out more about children’s preferences, so they can target children with advertising and other content with a personalized appeal.

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We have found that companies use the data to serve ads (for food, clothing, games, etc.) to the children via their computers. * * *

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