Internet Privacy

In an age where information is available to anyone with just the click of a mouse, teachers need to be ever more vigilant in protecting student information. The issue of student privacy and safety encompasses numerous aspects of cyber security such as dissemination of student information on websites (including those created by the teacher), online predators, and protecting private information on school servers (this often includes name, address, birth date, etc.).

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The following articles discuss the various aspects of student security and safety. The video explores whether or not a school can go too far in trying to protect students. Read each article and discuss the questions below.

Article/Discussion 1: Pennsylvania Schools Spying on Students

  1. Do you feel that school districts should have the ability to remotely activate and view images from a school issued laptop for any reason? Would the action have been justified had parents been notified that the school district would exercise its "right" to activate and view images captured by the web cam?
  2. Does the school have the right to punish students using school issued laptops for violations committed in the privacy of their own home?
  3. What potential hazards to student privacy and safety to you see emerging if schools are authorized to pry into student home lives?
  4. Some school systems issue laptops to teachers. Do you think a district would be justified in spying on its employees as well?

Article/Discussion 2: Online Predators (Pedophiles)

  1. Should schools use commercial social networking sites such as Facebook in the classroom?
  2. Do the educational benefits associated with using social networking sites outweigh the risks?
  3. As an educator, how can you help protect your students online?

Article/Discussion 5: Identity Theft

  1. Many schools store student information on their networks making it available to anyone who can hack the system. With such dangers in mind, should schools still ask for social security numbers? Would it be better to go back to paper and filing cabinets?
  2. What information should students not post online or include in e-mails in order to protect their identities?


  • Conduct ongoing discussions with your students about the rules and disciplinary actions outlined in your school's AUP and the consequences of violations that are against the law. Also discuss with students that agreeing to policies set by Facebook and MySpace are binding legal agreements.
  • Discuss with students why they should only communicate with people they know and the dangers of talking to strangers. Explain to them why they should not share private information such as phone number, home address, or what school they attend.
  • Post the AUP rules by computer stations.
  • Educate your parents about the benefits and hazards of social networking, e-mailing, etc. Explain to them the importance of monitoring their child's computer activities and talking to them about responsible computer use.
  • Always log-off of your computer when you leave the room or will be absent from work to protect student information.
  • Monitor students during computer use. Walk around the computer lab so that students know you may be watching what they are doing.
  • Walk around your classroom. If you always stay in the front then students will be free to use their cell phones or laptops for non-classroom related activities.
  • Know what to monitor. Stay up to date with the latest methods used by students to bypass school internet security so that you know what to look for when monitoring your students.
  • Password protect areas of school or classroom websites that provide student information and photos. Scholastic offers password protected websites for free to teachers. Available at

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