Q: Which of these fairly common digital resources is permissible to use with students under the age of 13?
EasyBib is a citation generator used in every school district in which I’ve ever worked. It’s a major time-saver when it comes to creating bibliographies and works cited pages.
Pinterest is a social, digital bulletin board used for saving and sharing images, recipes, websites, and ideas of all kinds.
Canva is a graphic design tool used for creating posters, flyers, digital graphics, and more.
Each of these resources is extremely useful, so it makes sense that you would be interested in having your students create accounts to be utilized with a variety of learning activities. What do you need to know first, however? How do you know if these websites are okay to use with students? If a website seems “legit”, or has some sort of educational value, it’s probably fine, right?
Not necessarily. What follows are my tips for determining whether or not your students are able to safely utilize and/or create accounts on websites.
- Check these Websites: Some educational resources have been “certified” as protecting student data privacy by organizations such as Student Privacy Pledge, iKeepSafe, and Common Sense Media. These websites are great places to find additional verification that a resource has been somewhat vetted. I say “somewhat”, because, ultimately it is your responsibility to make sure that any tools you use with students meet data privacy requirements.
- When in Doubt, Ask Your District Technology Administrators: The buck must ultimately stop at the top. If you have any doubts or questions about a tool, ask your technology team to take a look at the resource you’re considering using with students. They may even have a guidance document for your district. Here is our district’s Approved Digital Resource List. It’s a living document to which we continually add new resources. Each resource contains a description, indicates whether it’s free or paid, and, most importantly, states whether it can be used with student data (eg. student names, email accounts, etc.).
So what’s the answer to the Pop Quiz question?
A: Based on Terms of Service, NONE of these resources may be utilized by students under 13. I find the EasyBib Terms of Service particularly surprising, as it is such a ubiquitous tool in intermediate grades as well as in middle school. The Terms clearly state, however, that no one under 13 may use the service. Pinterest is another resource that I’ve had several teachers wanting to use with intermediate elementary students as well as younger middle school students. Unfortunately, Terms of Service prevent them from doing so. Canva’s Terms of Service also specify that use is reserved for ages 13+.
While Terms of Service and Privacy Policies look daunting, these two documents usually provide enough information within the first few minutes or so of review to know whether or not a resource might be considered for use with students under 13, and whether their Privacy Policies are written in accordance with COPPA and FERPA.