Cypersecurity risks for students

Last week, we had  Mary Beth, author of “Digital Media and Literacy in the Age of the Internet,” as a guest speaker in class. Mary’s presentation was very informative.  Mary touched a lot of hot and interesting topics in her talk. She covered topics like how the Internet works, FOMO, COPPA Act, Cybersecurity, and digital literacy. I like how Adam summarize it all by an excellent title: “Digital Literacy for Dummies.”

Our kids use internet-based technology all the time.   Such technology is part of our life, not only in education but also in politics, socializing, marketing and news source.  As Mary mentioned in her presentation, “there is no edtech any more, it is only an ed.”  Educating kids about how the Internet (and Technology in general) works is very important for digital literacy.

Mary visually explained having a basic knowledge of this allows students to understand privacy, security issues and help them understand how the internet is a global community. Students need to understand how to use technology safely and wisely. It can be a bumpy road if we don’t use it responsibly. We have to make them aware of what is out there and how to protect themselves. 

There is no ‘real world’ and ‘digital world'” flickr photo by OllieBray shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license


Mary focused on cyber safety and security and how we can teach it to our kids. This is a huge concern for everyone. As adults, we give up our data without even noticing. How many of us read terms of use of the software/ apps we use on a daily basis?  Who reads the policies of websites? For example, we all heard of telephone tax scammers and how they were targeting elderly and new immigrants because they aren’t aware of tax laws in Canada. Imagine, then, how much kids’ privacy is exposed with the extensive use of social media apps and software.

There are other means to collect more and more data personalized data.  Audrey Watters, dug deep into this and explained how schools, for example, collect enrollment data, attendance data, graduation data, disciplinary data, standardized test data as it is one of today’s mandate. But as she stated, “There is, however, little evidence that collecting more data improves teaching or learning. Nevertheless, education technology continues to insist that its software and algorithms can identify students who are struggling – academically or emotionally.

Imagine that some schools even collect and use students’ biometric data to solve cheating issues. The schools use software and algorithms to eliminate the need for human oversight in online exams. Audrey Watters, provides many other cases that she explained in her article.  “Education Technology and Data Insecurity,” 

Data collecting and selling is all over the place. Alec shared a website last week called “We sell your Data.” The website is trying to raise awareness of this enormous issue of collecting data from users. The main message is Be smart about who you choose to give your data.”  Mary told us how she got rid of her Alexa, knowing how it can be a spy in her house, along with the smart TV can eavesdropping on our private conversations as per the article Matteo shared with us.  I actually suspect that the Google Mini at our home spies on us and listens to our discussion!!! Or else how did they know how to provide me with very relevant recommendations on my YouTube timeline??

Having appropriate policies to control the shared data is another crucial aspect. Mary mentioned COPPA law and how it is a good framework especially with students younger than 13 years. I agree with Amanda on the importance of the role of school and educators in teaching students how to behave online and how to think critically and ask themselves questions like; who will access their data? How will data be collected? Where will this data be stored? Will their data be shared with another 3rd party? What data should be provided, and what should not? Mary also stressed on teaching them how to validate the information by using Google reverse image search or checking different websites to source the information and seek the truth.  Eventually, they will be able to make the right choices while creating their digital citizenship.

Mary’s presentation motivated me to talk to my kids more about Cybersafety and security and how to make good choices online. We watched, the movie Searching! It provides a good story of what can happen to our kids online.

4 thoughts on “Cypersecurity risks for students

  1. It seems we all had some similar takeaways from our last class! Thank you for the link to Audrey Watter’s blog – I have fallen down a deep hole of reading her Hack Education posts while I procrastinate other things. At least this procrastination was informative!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dean Vendramin

    Glad to see the that this presentation had an impact on you and your family as well and started a conversation. I’ll have to watch that movie too. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the mention, Nataly! I found her discussion on privacy and data fascinating as well. I didn’t realize how crucial it was to do research about our security and privacy. It’s something that I am going to be more invested in now! Thanks for a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The whole idea of our devices spying on us is an interesting one Nataly. Thanks for the mention! I read an article about how Google and other companies have gotten so good at using our data that it seems to use that our devices are “spying” on us, when in actuality it’s all our other metadata that we are sharing that drives these “uncanny” recommendations as you say. I’m not sure… haha, maybe Edward Snowden has made me paranoid! A great read.

    Liked by 1 person

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