A couple of days ago a news story broke about a suburban Philadelphia school spying on students in their homes using the webcams on school-issued laptops. The story has gotten a lot of play, rightly so, and it looks like the FBI is going to investigate.
There’s no doubt it’s creepy if school officials can spy on students without the students, or the parents, knowing about it. As I’ve been thinking about this story over the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about how so many adults that I talk to are worried about teen privacy. These conversations always focus on making sure teens know how to be safe and smart about their online privacy. But, what do we do when it is the adults who are supposed to be teaching teens privacy skills, that abuse a teen’s privacy?
There’s no doubt it’s creepy if school officials chose to spy on students without letting parents or the teens know about the decision. Yet, if the officials had let the parents know that this was going to happen, would it have been right, even then to go forward with the spying? I’m always talking with teachers and librarians about how we have to show respect for teenagers and that one sign of that respect is trust. What kind of trust can we build with teens if adults in their world find it OK to spy on them, perhaps in their most private moments?
There’s no doubt it’s creepy if school officials chose to spy on students. What if instead of turning on the cameras remotely, parents and school officials actually talked with the teens in the community about what’s going on in their adolescent lives? Is it really so hard to do that? Is it really so scary to have a conversation with a teen (or group of teens)?
Imagine if you were a teen in this PA community and learned that the school issued laptop was possibly being used as a device to secretly watch you. What would you think about the adults in the community? How would you feel about your privacy? Who would you feel comfortable trusting?
Of course, I do have to say, that we don’t know the full story, yet. But, doesn’t it give you pause that school personnel have the capability to spy remotely?
As you think, check-out these articles on the same story: