We have breakfast today reading a devastating message, in a national newspaper, attention:
Google has been spying on millions of children and their families in the United States and in Spain. Collecting their personal information that includes: “where they are physically located, the web pages they visit, what they look for in the Google search engine and the results they click on, the videos they see on YouTube, their personal contact information , their voice recordings, the passwords they keep and other information about their behavior.

Logically panic. In the war I have to live, professors who have questioned this issue are endorsed their fears (and I can understand it) and public opinion (the families of our students in particular and the bar terrace conversations in the gangs in general ) is going to take over all the schools that have their domains googleized. And there are a lot, in non-public schools practically 80% (the other ones are with Microsoft, it is, same movie) and in public school they are already beginning the same journey. That, in Spain. I have not updated data from other countries for a couple of years.

The article is sensationalist. It does not lie, but does not tell the whole truth and doesn’t explain correctly what it says:

  • The word “spy” is ugly. Google collects what we do in its services, analyzes it, interprets it and makes decisions with that knowledge to improve its business. Google, Microsoft, Wallmart, AOL, McDonalds (every store where you pay with a credit card) … shall we continue? They do not do it through surveys, but through the bread crumbs that we are leaving when using their services. This is important. AOL is spying on you? And Facebook? And Twitter? I would use another word … I think “spying” has a rather controversial connotation. None of us read the terms of service when we sign up for Facebook, but there it is, and clearly. Everything we do on their platforms is registered. And they will use it as they consider. And if we don’t want to, let’s not use it.
  • Now we mix the word “spy” with “children” and “families.” Fear. It reminds me of those headlines of 20 years ago “terrorist attack 7 km from a school with many happy children” …. those words put in the same sentence and the staff was more outraged, what the hell…, people then read the article, if not, not even that.
  • Another group of words to warm us up “collecting your personal information”. Ok, let´s go. Here comes the world-school: when a school deploys a Google educational account and a device in the hands of a child, it does so because it has an ICT CURRICULUM to respond to, and in that curriculum (at least in the schools where I work) you can read that at some term in his learning itinerary the child has to learn to create a personal email account (understanding that this has to be done in a couple of different systems or three) and that it must be used to personal issues (at those ages, mainly leisure) and that the educational account is for educational issues. Can you understand me? So … if Google collects data from a student while doing his homework (at school or outside of school) his searches, the videos he watches, his contacts, etc … what Google can get is a richness of information about the education that we give in all schools that you hallucinate … and maybe one day they may want to sell to our governments to help us improve our educational plans, because they will know our shortcomings and our strengths. In parallel, they can teach us and much about communication between children, bullying, work schedules at home, things like that. If they collect that info it will be because they are interested, and they will want to make big money for it. It seems logical. They are a private company, they are not little nuns of charity.

Different deal is when a school is giving a child those tools and is not teaching (and this in the ICT CURRICULUM of the schools for where I work we call DIGITAL ETHICS, and is perfectly collected and defined) that has to differentiate the personal use versus the professional use of the technological tools (for childs, personal use vs. educational use) and then we have children who use an educational resource (the Google account in this case) for personal topics. And then… yes, Google is capturing info about the videos of Fortnite that the boy is watching on Friday at 23:00 at home, for example, or the pornographic searches he does in the solitude of his bedroom on Sunday morning, while parents are sleeping.

Shall we look for a responsible?

  • The child is a child, and therefore, is at the mercy of adults. I don’t think he can be responsible, at least until he gets into adolescence.
  • The school has the responsibility of explaining / working on / empowering / developing resources … in everything related to separate personal use and educational-professional use of technological resources. They need an ICT curriculum that includes not only the use of tools (manage Photoshop, Excel, 3D printing or programming) but also a DIGITAL ETHICS that helps understand what we are up to.
  • The family has the responsibility to understand that a computer is the same scenario like if we were talking about scissors, for example: well used are perfect, but when you don´t follow the rules, scissors can cause you a disgrace. That is why young children are not left alone playing with them, until parents and teachers are certain that they know what they are doing and what can happen to them.

We have another option. Walk backwards, as Michael Jackson used to dance. We can forget everything about technology and return to the XIII century. I don’t care about Google like Microsoft, Facebook or Whatsapp. Time ago, in a small town, everyone knew what others were doing, their customs, their possible reactions, and treated him accordingly. Do not call him BIG DATA, call him FARMER-CUNNING and it’s the same, only for a population of 150 people. Now it’s the same, for the whole planet earth. Welcome to globalization

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