The Law vs #EdTech (Part I)

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July 13, 2016 by Dr. Robbie Barber

[Note: I am not a lawyer and offer no legal advice.]

Students, Parents and especially Teachers are overwhelmed with the choices for things to use for technology.  We encourage this process in talking about 1:1 devices (one device per student issued by the school), engaging more with social media and showing off our students work to create positive outlooks, positive impressions, and great self-esteem.

Here’s the problem: we are NOT checking the laws and both as parents and teachers, it is our responsibility to do just that.

The Federal government has created a series of laws to help protect children from online harmful or obscene materials, directed marketing, and even predators.  (See links for COPPA, CIPA, & FERPA below.)  These same laws may also feel like they are limiting children in using educational technology (edtech) products.

And the responsibility is on YOU to teach the laws and follow them in the classroom.

So how do they affect #edtech?  Check out this image of common tools.  Click on it to see the companies’ age policies.

law vs edtech

Every district should have something legal that lists all of the possibilities for parents.  Here’s an example, modified from what some teachers in my district actually used.

Federal Laws:


Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act has the primary goal of protecting children’s online information.  Children are defined in this law as under the age of 13.  It requires owners of mobile apps, commercial websites and services to provide a privacy policy and to explicitly allow parents to control the information for their children.  The information includes photos and videos, screen names, contact information to name a few.

The biggest effect of this law is that MOST online #edtech companies do NOT allow students under the age of 13 to use their products.


Children’s Internet Protect Act states the schools and libraries have to filter their internet for things deemed harmful to children.  Schools are additionally required to monitor students’ activities online and teach them about internet safety (Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act).


Family Education and Privacy Rights Act deals with students’ educational record.  This covers student’s personal information including their birth dates and awards.  Schools are allowed to share it but parents (and students over 18) have a right to not have it shared.

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