LOS ANGELES – A California school district has hired a company to monitor the social media activity of its students.
Glendale United school officials will reportedly use the information to help them step in when students are in danger of harming themselves or others, according to the Glendale News Press.
How thoughtful – and creepy.
The service will collect and analyze the social media interactions of about 13,000 middle and high school students at eight different Glendale schools.
It’s expected to cost the district $40,500.
After collecting the information from various social media sites, the surveillance company – Geo Listening – will provide school officials with a daily report that categorizes posts by their frequency and how they relate to cyber-bullying, harm, hate, despair, substance abuse, vandalism and truancy, reports News Press.
Students do have the option of opting out of the monitoring by adjusting the privacy settings on the social media sites.
The district issued a report stating that Geo Listening will give school officials “critical information as early as possible,” allowing school employees “to disrupt negative pathways and make any intervention more effective.”
Parents in the district have mixed emotions about the program.
“As a parent, I find it very big brother-ish,”said Yalda T. Uhls, a researcher at UCLA and a parent of two Glendale students.
Uhls was also concerned that children could potentially lose trust in parents. But she could see the positive side of implementing this type of program, which could help prevent cyber bullying.
“This could be one piece in a school’s tool kit to combat that problem and it should be a very small piece,” she said in the news story.
School Superintendent Dick Sheehan told the Glendale News Press the surveillance program is another opportunity to “go above and beyond” when protecting students.
“People are always looking to see what we’re doing to ensure that their kids are safe. This just gives us another opportunity to ensure the kids are safe at all times,” he said in the report.