Why Is GoGuardian Bad?

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

If we're going to impose monitoring software on students, we need to consider the implications. This technology allows teachers to spy on their students without having to get up from their desks, allowing them to manage larger groups of students at once, but it also makes it harder for teachers to interact with students and provide one-on-one assistance. It also potentially violates student privacy by tracking and analyzing what they do at home, even when they're off of the school wifi network.

The founder of GoGuardian, Advait Shinde, says that his company is a filtering service and not spyware. But critics point out that the company's algorithms are black box, meaning we don't know how they make their decisions about what should or shouldn't be blocked. And there's already evidence that schools are using these tools to monitor students' social media and personal communications.

There are plenty of good reasons to limit students' access to websites, but using monitoring software to do so feels like it breaks trust between teacher and student. It's especially problematic when a student searches for personal information online, and that search is monitored by GoGuardian. In one case, a student typed in "suicide hotline" and it was flagged by the program. Teachers should only use such a tool if they have a plan in place to follow up on any concerns raised by such an alert. Otherwise, a teacher risks violating FERPA by tracking and monitoring their students in ways that they wouldn't do in the classroom.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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