Privacy & Security

What Do Parents Think of Online Learning?

By Alyson Klein — September 21, 2020 1 min read
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If it wasn’t for online learning, many school districts might well be entirely dark this fall. But that doesn’t mean parents don’t have concerns about online learning.

That’s according to new research released Monday by the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit organization.

Parents are overall supportive of virtual schooling, with 76 percent saying they are likely to support more online education at home, even after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. But they have big questions about data privacy issues, with 68 percent saying they are worried about “unauthorized access of online activities or unauthorized communication” with their children online.

Another 64 percent say they have qualms about student data privacy, while another 64 percent say they are worried about not being able to monitor or limit what their child sees on the internet. And 61 percent have concerns about student information security.

Those concerns, though, are dwarfed by others not relating to technology. Seventy-six percent of parents say they are worried about the quality of education their child receives, while 71 percent say bullying is a big headache.

Most students—about 3 out of 4—have access to reliable home internet. But that number is lower for African American children, only 68 percent of whom have such access. There’s also a disparity in access to printers, with 48 percent of African American families having one at home, compared to 54 percent for the United States as a whole.

The vast majority—90 percent—of parents say they monitor their child’s internet use. And more than half say they withhold or take away technology when rules are broken, have house rules on screen-time, and have access to their child’s social media, email, and other applications.

The majority of parents—52 percent—consider themselves and school administrators most responsible for keeping students’ data private. Another 28 percent pin the responsibility on school districts, while 27 percent say teachers are most responsible.

The survey of 1,277 parents was conducted in late spring. African American and Hispanic parents were oversampled.

Image: Getty

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

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