Early last week, the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) published its annual study for the 18th year in a row, which was titled, “Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School.”
This study revealed the sobering reality that when schools encourage their students to accept and use free technology resources to enhance their educational experience, they are putting their students in a precarious position. Here’s why.
When students in middle or high school use free laptops or tablets provided by their school district for learning purposes, there are predatory companies out there that are watching what the students are browsing while they are on these computers and mobile devices.
These companies keep track of the online activity the students engage in for the purpose of mining large of amounts of data. The companies use this data and sell it to third-party companies that seek to aggressively market things to the students in a predatory way.
The preservation of privacy is one of the primary concerns when it comes to this growing issue. Not only that, people who are against what these companies are doing to minors are concerned that the companies are trying to influence how these school-age children think.
The companies have defended the activities of their data collectors stating that none of the students are identified by their names.
However, researchers of this study have concluded that even if the students are not identified by name, they are still being wrongfully observed based on their individual “interests, social networks, personalities, vulnerabilities, desires, and aspirations,” according to their report.
“By feeding children ads and other content personalized to appeal specifically to them, and also by choosing what not to show them, marketers influence children’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors,” the authors of the UCB study wrote.
“As they do, they also test, adjust, and perfect their models of influence — and then track and target some more,” they also wrote.
Unfortunately, major players in America’s toxic food industry are the main perpetrators of the predatory data mining, which is geared toward marketing culinary poison to children at a young age. This makes them vulnerable and puts them at risk for developing childhood diabetes, a very adverse health problem.
To read the entire UCB study, click here.
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