School Does Not Allow Alternate Web Browsers on our Chromebooks

@sidnya, you should be proud to be you. You have awareness of yourself and society, and that is the key to becoming a good digital citizen.

Sherry Turkle has written a wonderful book, Alone Together, in which she presents the results of hundreds of interviews, most of them with high-school and college students. I think you will find in this book that there are aware, thoughtful young people just like you, who want technology to be a tool and not a shackle.

Reading this book may also give you ways to respond to your friends. Furthermore, Sherry T. has a TED talk, for which a transcript is available. Is there a teacher at your school you could share this with? Perhaps it would lead to a great class discussion.


There is a teacher I could bring this up with (coincidentally she is the computer science teacher). Unfortunately a lot of teachers at my school rely on Google products just because they are not provided adequate resources, so they do not always see my side. But any discussion around this topic is raising awareness , is important and should be welcome, right? (-: Thank you for your book recommendations @patm!

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Yes, indeed; any discussion that creates awareness by having people reflect on their behavior is good.

Alone Together is a thick book, so I will look through it this weekend and try to find the parts that are best to read. In the meantime, watching Sherry T.'s TED talk is a good start.


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@patm That TED Talk was super cool! My dad has always encouraged me to “be bored” instead of trying to seek entertainment all the time through my devices. He always says “You can learn a lot by being bored by yourself”. That talk really supports that outlook. Thank you for spending time looking through the book.

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@sidnya I too find your awareness on these issues refreshing to hear.

I think you’ll like to hear Ashkan Soltani talk- his talk hits all these things right on the head- he’s brilliant and not afraid of the truth.


What would be very cool to do is address this issue together with the Humane Tech Community. We should give Tech Wise theme a spin, and start a campaign for this.

If you want to make a strong argument you have to be well-prepared, know exactly what you talk about. No conspiracies, but hard facts. As a first deliverable we can write one or more articles, and promote it on our blog. Get some good discussions going. Then maybe, @sidnya, you could organize a talk at school and create a kind of action team, so you do not stand alone in your plea.

So collecting facts… we can start having a look on this forum, like the data Google collects on you. There was this project for FB called Data Selfie (discontinued), that sent data about you to an emotional analysis service, and came back with a report on you. Some techies amongst our members could revive this, but then for Google.

There is the book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism which is becoming a bestseller, and on Hacker News there are many discussions where people argue that Google is actually worse in many respects than Facebook, and their slogan ‘Don’t be evil’ rings entirely hollow.

Many aware people are very frustrated that everyone - knowing about the scandals and the dangers - just keeps using the bad stuff. Targeting young people in places where they are most exposed, is a particularly nasty practice, and I expect we can really rally people here to raise their voice about it, if we just let them know what is going on, and what is at stake.

PS @sidnya, do you want to join the Awareness Program and the Campaigners team?

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I definitely want to join those teams! I was unsure of how to and a little embarrassed to ask. I have a lot of ideas in how to spread tech awareness in schools and to teenagers specifically!


You are most welcome to join @sidnya. I am excited to add you to the team. Will do it right away :smiley:

A good place to start might be pages 182 through 186. Though the section talks about Facebook a lot, I think you will be able to glean the differences in self-regard and maturity between one student, Brad, and the others.

BTW, there is also a lot about robots in the book. Turkle interviewed preschoolers and senior citizens about their interactions with the robots that were introduced into their environments as part of her research project. Interestingly, the seniors showed greater emotional attachment and the children more curiosity about the machines.

@sidnya, I should caution you that there are disturbing things in the book. I don’t know if you will get your own copy or borrow one from the library, but be careful. If you like, I can continue to suggest sections to you.

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What is your school? Public? Private? Secondary? College? There are remedies for all of these.

Its a public school.

Private schools, home schooling, addressing the school board, and becoming a member of the school board all are paths to improving that situation.

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While some of these may have better policy, I don’t see this as a real solution. They are much more expensive to join in general, and for many not able to afford this leads to privacy inequality. Private schools in a way undermine the public system in a vicious cycle, and they are commercial entities themselves. They’ll maximize profits on you, and once dominant in your region tuition may go up and up.


Its a bit late for me to switch to a private school, and unfortunetly our school board doesn’t care about our schools as much as it cares about its budget and pay raises for the superintendent. Unfortunetly that is how it is for a lot of public school districts. I think if a more formal organization lobbied against districts for privacy rights it would be more effective ( maybe something for the advocacy category).

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Private schools are in the same position- they are not necessarily educated in privacy- one of the issues with Edtech in the US in public and private alike. My child is in private this year and she telks the teacher about privacy issues- they use google classroom… they want free chrome books to keep tuition lower so the intent is benevolent. The only part that is better about private is when there is an issue parents can stand together to make a change. Unfortunately, many of the parents of these kids in Bayarea work for Facebook and google- so naturally they think everything is safe because these companies pay their mortgage. A bit incestuous, but not in a bad way.

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Right now we are not in a position to lobby politically but educating districts yes definitely!!

I was thinking like a PTA organization of some kind already active!

I forgot my school computer at home yesterday, and man it was a disaster. I could not participate in like 4/6 of my classes and ended up behind on a lot of my work. I never realized how dependent I am on this device for education.


Yikes, a horror story.

In my office (I work at a university), you need your phone to log in to your email because of enhanced security measures. You choose between (1) having the email client (Google app for education) call you and (2) typing in a passcode sent to your phone.

At first this aggravated me several times a day, but people must have complained loudly. Now you only need it now and then. How the app decides when that is is a mystery, but it seems to me it’s a couple times a week.

I know that at ‘Iolani, a private school for grades K–12, students have been given ipads. A good friend of mine, one of the oldest and most highly respected teachers at the school, decries the intrusion of tech into education. As with my university, the head of the school is a tech person.

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I am also unable to download many chrome extensions that would secure my data like Privacy Tools. I don’t know what to do. I looked up ways to get around the admin on the computer, and they involve opening up the back of the computer. I’m not trying to get in trouble right before I graduate, however ( haha ).

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