June is Student Safety Month: Is Your Child Safe Using Apps

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The FCC has created strong regulations in its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), requiring app developers to delineate their practices for collecting private information from users. Parents and teachers need to be especially mindful of the policies of the apps their children are using.

We believe that technology can provide great learning tools for all learning abilities. Every Mac and iOS device comes standard with innovative accessibility features. (Apple)

The FCCs COPPA privacy act is meant to help ensure students’ safety. With the wide-spread use of apps in the classroom, home, and other intervention settings, many users are not only not aware of the privacy act, but are unaware of the practices of the app developers whose products they are using.

More and more, research and practice are providing evidence of the efficacy of apps in education. Schools worldwide are using iPads in classrooms to enhance teaching and learning.

In special education intervention in particular, apps and other technology are becoming the “great equalizer.” (UNC-School of Education report). App technology is more engaging, offers a wider variety of activities than many classroom teachers can create, and offers built-in access solutions for many students. iPads have revolutionized how teachers, therapists and parents help their children learn.

But are these adults all aware of the personal data collection, internet access, and other features of some apps that are being used? In particular, developers of apps for children with disabilities - children who often can’t read warnings or directions - need to make sure that children are safe using apps. Check developer websites or their in-app information pages for their privacy policy - it’s an FCC requirement. For example, on Language Learning Apps, LLC website you will note an info graphic at the bottom of the app pages; indicating whether there are adds within the app, links to social media, if the app collects GPS location, allows web browsing, or has in-app purchases children can make without parental approval.

If you want more information, check out the FCC guidelines and the Bureau of Consumer Protection information on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection rule.

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Susan Berkowitz
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