There’s More Than Homework in Students’ Drive Accounts

Through a partnership earlier this year with Project Tomorrow and the impressive national research project, Speak Up, we’ve found that student use of school-provided technology aligns with the statistical trends that we see in Gaggle Safety Management.

For instance, according to Project Tomorrow, the number of high school students who share nude images electronically is 50% higher when they use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. It‘s about 15% percent higher for middle school students.

This school year, in a sample of 20,000,000 drive files reviewed by our Safety Management team, we discovered that over 160,000 were “actionable,” requiring us to contact a school or district emergency contact. This means that for every 1,000 student files in Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, there are approximately eight items that contain inappropriate, unsafe or threatening content.

The types of inappropriate content our Safety Representatives discover are diverse, but there are some noticeable recurring trends.

Often, on school systems, we discover students who have stored nude images that they’ve taken of themselves or have received from friends. You might wonder what kind of student would do such a thing? It’s often unintentional.

When students get new mobile devices, one of the first questions they answer upon setup is “do you want your photos and videos backed up on the cloud?” If they answer, “yes,” and they’re using their school- or district- provided email account, then any photos, including Snapchat screenshots, they take or receive, including screenshots from pornographic websites or apps like Snapchat, will be backed up on your system. This is why one of our focuses is early warning detection of inappropriate images in order to protect you from the risks involved in handling this sensitive content.

Another actionable item that we discover frequently in drive files are journals. Students routinely use documents as a kind of digital diary, and they often discuss (whether it’s shared with others or private) past or current abuse, thoughts of depression, self harm and even intentions of suicide.  Some students will even leave suicide notes in drive files with the intent of having the note found after their death.

More often than not, students write about situations that they’re uncomfortable discussing with a parent, friend, educator or counselor in person. Gaggle has actually discovered students who intentionally divulged inappropriate content in drive as a means of getting much-needed help.

G Suite for Education and Office 365 are wonderful learning solutions, but they also present a liability to K-12 schools and districts that don’t fully consider the ramifications of student safety. Moral of the story: If you use these tools, there is more than homework in your students’ drive accounts.

Audit

Is Your School Using G Suite for Education?

Do you understand the safety risks when students use G Suite for Education? Are your schools doing everything possible to improve the safety and security of students?