SAN DIEGO, Feb. 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Internet Safety Labs, a non-profit technology product safety watchdog, today announced a new report, “Demographic Analysis of App Safety, Website Safety, and School Technology Behaviors in US K-12 Schools.” The findings, an extension of ISL’s nationwide K-12 EdTech Safety Benchmark, provide an in-depth look at glaring disparities in school technology practices, especially in low-income schools and schools with majority black or indigenous students.
Funded with support from the Internet Society Foundation, the new research sheds light on app safety, school website safety, and school technology practices across five demographic lenses: grade Level, school locale, school income level, school majority race and school size. The report unveils the stark reality that the nation’s most marginalized students are being subjected to privacy risks at a higher rate while simultaneously potentially suffering from a digital divide from their peers in different demographic segments.
- Schools in the lowest income segment ($20K-$39K) and schools with majority race American Indian/Native Alaskan (National Center for Education Statistics categories) have the lowest technology vetting of all demographics and have the highest average percentage of apps with ads or behavioral ads.
- 91.1% of school websites include risky trackers, and a larger than expected percentage of websites include digital advertising (20.3%).
- Public schools were nearly twice as likely as private schools to include digital advertising on school websites.
- Black majority schools saw the highest rate of website ads (33.3%) by far, 64.0% higher than the national average and 76.2% higher than white majority race schools.
- 100% of Black majority race school websites had trackers, and this segment had among the highest average number of trackers.
Systemic technology vetting appears to be having a small, positive effect on the average percentage of apps with ads and behavioral ads in school portfolios. The causal relationship is tenuous, however, with schools in the $120K and above income segment having the highest rate of tech vetting and one of the highest rates of apps. ISL has championed a “less is more” position regarding recommended and required technologies in schools, but with this research, ISL wonders about the impact of too little technology.
The report includes a comprehensive list of recommendations for schools, school districts, and policymakers, such as removing digital ads and advertising-related trackers from all school websites.
The extensive research is presented in two formats: a research summary and a detailed analysis.
“This analysis was exploratory in nature, and we didn’t know what it would show. Our ongoing analysis of the US EdTech benchmark data continues to yield important discoveries. We hope that local education agencies and policymakers can make good use of the findings and recommendations from this report,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director of Internet Safety Labs. “We’re also available to help schools establish tech vetting and software vendor management practices.”
Internet Safety Labs invites experts, business leaders and individuals interested in advancing standards for software product safety and ethical Internet practices to visit its website to learn more about how to work with ISL.
About Internet Safety Labs
Internet Safety Labs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit technology product safety watchdog, unrelentingly on the side of consumers and their safety. Through standards development, product research, product audits and policy advocacy, we work to ensure software product safety. We believe it’s time for software and software-driven products to be tested with the same safety rigor we apply to all the physical products in our lives. For more information, please visit https://internetsafetylabs.org/.
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