Guest Post: One Educator’s approach to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Jan 18, 2013
Education

In times of stricter policies related to children’s online interactions, how a Pre-K teacher is creating new app services through Juddly, which was designed to protect children’s privacy while empowering them to share with family online. Based in the model of parent/teacher conferences, upcoming features of Juddly will also inform parents about the educational value […]

In times of stricter policies related to children’s online interactions, how a Pre-K teacher is creating new app services through Juddly, which was designed to protect children’s privacy while empowering them to share with family online.

Based in the model of parent/teacher conferences, upcoming features of Juddly will also inform parents about the educational value found in various app experiences provided by her own company as well as those offered by other developers.

As an early childhood specialist and app developer, I am among a growing number of people paying close attention to the recent Federal Trade Commission study about the lack of transparency and information given to parents in some apps for children. I applaud all who call for transparency and security in any business that creates products for children.

Those of us in the fields of early childhood, special education and elementary education are well versed in child-centered decision-making. Within my new role in digital education, I encourage all children’s app developers to make commitments to use a child-centered lens as they view issues of security and transparency in the evolving landscape of technology in education. We at Mrs. Judd’s Games provide a model for such thinking with our promises. I encourage parents and educators to seek out developers who demonstrate a similar commitment to transparency, and I encourage my fellow developers to express it.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was initially enacted to protect children’s information and any site directed at children under 13 was required to obtain parental notification before asking for any information from the child. At the end of 2012, the FTC revised COPPA to redefine the definitions of “operator” and “personal information” to reflect advancements like video technology, smartphones and apps. Additionally, apps direct at kids and websites may not permit third parties to collect personal information through plug-ins without parental notice or consent. Third parties also must comply with COPPA – a point worth noting for developers who are working with third parties.

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This is a good—and important—decision, as young children are increasingly given access to family devices for both education and entertainment purposes. Those interested can read a full copy of the ruling here, or consult the FTC website for details.

Matters of transparency and security have been major topics of conversation for us at Mrs. Judd’s Games as we begin to launch Juddly, an in-app feature that empowers young children to deliver digital drawings, messages, and photos to their parents’ in-boxes by touching their parent’s photo icon in the app.


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As parents and teachers ourselves, the Mrs. Judd’s Games team bases a great deal of our work on the framework of the parent/teacher conference. We believe that, similar to the valuable services that Appolicious offers to families looking for clear categories and descriptions of apps, our Juddly service will add a teacher’s voice in the digital domain.

As an educator, whether designing classroom experiences or digital app experiences, I seek to create a means for young children to share their work with a parent and to offer parents a bit of insight into the education provided in these moments of play and childhood exploration. Our intent is to empower families to be able to know about each other’s day and discuss these things together. Part of thoughtful early childhood education is to give parents a window into their child’s day. Currently, many parents feel this is missing in their child’s digital explorations. Whether offering finger paint or touch-screen to children, we educators need to commit to the idea that children need safe arenas in which to create and deliver their creations to their loved ones. We are happy to provide such a service and we are encouraged by those parents who are among our first users of Juddly and who tell us about their feelings of delight when their child’s creations arrive at their inbox.

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In Mrs. Judd’s Games apps we build-in mechanisms for parents to learn about the “why” of certain educational moments found within apps. As we begin offering Juddly service to other developers, we look forward to adding a teacher’s voice to parent’s understanding of digital learning opportunities in a multitude of apps, and to bring clarity and transparency to the conversation about children’s technology, sharing and safety.

We also plan to use our role at Juddly to encourage parents and teachers of young children learn how to look carefully at the practices used inside various apps, to advocate for conscientious and child-centered thinking in digital education, and to be aware and vigilant to prevent anyone from marketing to their children.

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Frances Judd

 

Frances Judd is a concept designer, teacher and educational consultant who brings her unique expertise and passion for creative learning to the Mrs. Judd’s Games app line, developed by KBooM! Games. She integrates important classroom lessons, Common Core Standards and popular children’s play themes into her games such as superhero or puppy play. Her titles include Chalk Walk, Snowflake Station, Left Right Pup, Rhinomite, and the soon to be released Crabby Writer.

Mrs. Judd utilizes relationships with classroom teachers, parents, occupational therapists, after-school experts and reading specialists to provide input and feedback as she creates and revises apps that place children at the helm of their own learning. She posts her research notes and a teacher’s guide for each app.

Mrs. Judd taught kindergarten for 25 years at the prestigious Francis Parker School in Chicago. She posts about technology and early learning regulary to her blog and her column at Examiner.com and Edutopia.com. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

 

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