Internet in schools: Malaysian parents concerned about privacy

  • 76% think Net use will help their children acquire essential skills for the 21st century economy
  • But more than 90% worry that their children’s online activities in school will be tracked by ISPs

Internet in schools: Malaysian parents concerned about privacyA NEW survey shows that Malaysian parents have high hopes for the benefits that modern Internet services such as email and document collaboration offer to their children in school, but overwhelmingly margin believe these services must not be allowed to engage in online advertising or data mining of children’s personal information.
 
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) in partnership with the international non-profit organisation SafeGov.org, conducted an in-depth survey probing the views of Malaysian parents about the expected educational benefits as well as the potential threats to children’s privacy that school Internet services can bring.
 
The survey had 400 Malaysian parents of school-age children responding. The survey was commissioned by SafeGov.org, which promotes the safe and secure use of cloud computing in schools, governments and other public sector institutions around the world.
 
The survey found that Malaysian parents see a broad range of benefits from Internet services in school, with an emphasis on better skills for the future, the two organisations said in a statement.
 
More than three-quarters of parents think Internet use will help their children to learn creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking (click picture to view infographic in full).
 
A similar proportion believes that it will aid their children to acquire essential skills for competing in the 21st century global economy.
 
Parents also believe it will help children in traditional academic subjects such as the sciences and foreign languages.
 
Interestingly, the survey shows that parents with pre-tertiary education have even higher hopes than others for the educational benefits of Internet services in school, thus suggesting that social equality may be served by the spread of technology in the right conditions.
 
However, the survey also found that many Malaysian parents see a potential dark side to the use of certain Internet services in schools, especially those that allow online advertising or engage in ‘data mining’ of children’s information.
 
More than 90% of parents surveyed are worried that their children’s online activities in school will be tracked for profit-making purposes by Internet service providers which rely on advertising.
 
Although most parents (72%) believe that it is legitimate for schools to accept free services offered by Internet companies, 92% want schools to ensure that all advertising-related practices be banned from such services in schools.
 
In fact, 82% of parents want the government to pass laws enforcing the ban on online advertising in schools and give parents full control over what kinds of information about their children the Internet companies are allowed to collect.
 
“This work is part of our ongoing global series of education surveys that we are conducting in Europe, Asia and the Americas,” said Jeff Gould of SafeGov.
 
Internet in schools: Malaysian parents concerned about privacy“These results offer powerful confirmation that Malaysian parents, like their peers in every other country we have surveyed, hold the highest hopes for Internet use in schools, but firmly reject any intrusion into the classroom of online advertising or profiling of students for commercial purposes,” he added.
 
“It’s great to see such a positive response from the parents of our students across Malaysia” said PAGE chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim (pic).
 
“Technology in schools will have a significant impact on the learning experiences of our children and their future beyond school and education, and it’s important that we have all parties on-board ready to embrace these changes.
 
“As an organisation dedicated to education, it’s a priority of ours to help ensure that the introduction of any Internet service and online learning in the classroom is implemented in the safest and most non-intrusive way to protect the privacy of our children,” she added.

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