A school district in Long Island, New York, has announced that it would be the latest addition to the list of schools using technology to help track students’ activity and fight obesity. What technoloogy? A new program allows school administrators to monitor the heart rates, exercise, and sleep schedules of students using electronic bracelets.
Bay Shore, Long Island, parents are not happy ahout this.
How Will This Invade My Child’s Privacy?
Unanswered questions- including which students will wear the devices, for how long, and the purpose of the gathered data- have parents concerned about the level to which the program will invade their children’s privacy.
Ten Polar Active monitoring bracelets were ordered by the Bay Shore athletic department and will be used throughout the district in the coming semester.
When students wear the watch-like monitors, their heart beats and motion patterns are uploaded onto hand held computers by teachers. That data is then stored into a collection displayed on a password-protected site.
New Jersey And Missouri Already Have This System
The system has been used in school districts in New Jersey and Missouri already, where parents and civil rights advocates were among the most vocal critics.
The root of the riot: The Polar monitors track heart rate and sleep time.
From The Daily Mail:
‘A program like this should only be voluntary. Nobody should be forced to reveal biological indicator,’ (American Civil Union States Spokesman) Stanley told The New York Post.
Little is known how the ten monitors- each of which cost $90- will be spread throughout the seven schools in the Bay Shore school district, or whether students will volunteer or be chosen to participate.
One parent whose child wore the device in his St. Louis elementary school said that she never gave consent and was not privy to the results, both of which she found problematic.
‘I didn’t even know it was going on, and I’m active in the school. We have gotten no information about the website security or where the data will go,’ Beth Huebner told The Post.
Data Collected During Family Time
When they were used in the Parkway School District in Chersterfield, Missouri, some parents were concerned that the data collected by having third, fourth and fifth graders wearing the monitors was not just being used during the school day but also during private family time.
By displaying the childrens’ heart rates and showing how little or much they are active throughout the day, proponents argue that it promotes an interest and awareness of their own efforts.
New York is ranked the 16 worst state in the country in terms of childhood obesity, with 17.1 per cent of children considered officially obese in July.
By comparison, the two other states who have used the monitors, Missouri and New Jersey, are both better off as they are ranked 31st and 21st respectively.
Two Big Questions
There are two big questions here: first, what do you think about school districts stepping in to monitor the health of their students in this way?
Or, to put it another way, given that one third of kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese, shouldn’t we be thankful that someone is watching out for our kids?
Photo Credit: classicma