A majority of parents and educators believe online tools can protect student mental health and prevent them from accessing harmful content.

Educators, parents remain vigilant about protecting student mental health

A majority of parents and educators believe online educational technology can help prevent students from accessing harmful or explicit content

Parents still voice overwhelming concerns for student mental health and online safety, according to a GoGuardian survey conducted by Morning Consult.

With the 2022-23 school year underway, parents and educators appear to favor online tools that protect students from harmful content and help detect student mental health concerns, according to the survey

The nationally representative group of nearly 2,500 K-12 parents, teachers, and administrators indicated both significant concerns for student mental health and a high level of support for schools using online technologies to help keep kids safe.

The need for online safety is especially clear when considering the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory highlighting the urgency of the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Morning Consult’s survey found that parents and educators recognize the role the internet can play in exacerbating mental health issues.

Key findings related to student mental health and safety from the survey include:

  • Concern for student safety is high: More than 83% of K-12 parents, educators, and administrators feel a high level of concern for student mental health and violence in schools.
  • The internet plays a role in influencing self-harm or violence: More than 72% of respondents agreed the internet plays a strong role in influencing students to harm themselves or others.
  • Unrestricted access can be detrimental or harmful: Over three in four respondents agree that unrestricted access to the internet on school-issued devices can be detrimental to student mental health. 
  • There is support for online tools that protect student safety: Nearly 90% of all respondents support online educational technology that could help detect signs of a student considering harming themselves or others.

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Key overall findings from the survey related to content moderation include:

  • The internet is a useful learning tool: 93% of parents and 98% of teachers and administrators agree the internet is a useful learning tool that schools should use as part of their learning process.
  • Harmful or explicit content is a concern: 74% of K-8 and 68% of 9-12 parents are concerned about students accessing explicit or harmful content while using a school-issued device. This increases to more than 80% for teachers and administrators.
  • Content moderation is necessary and is the school’s responsibility: More than 91% of respondents believe it is necessary to have online educational technologies in place to prevent students from accessing harmful or explicit content. Of those that believe it is necessary, over 95% reported it is a school’s responsibility to put these tools in place.
  • Keeping students on task is important, too: Over 88% of those surveyed also believe it is necessary to have online educational technologies in place to keep students on task and away from digital distractions. This is especially critical as educators address pandemic-related unfinished learning.

“These findings validate on a broad, national scale what we’ve long heard directly from our customers: parents and educators believe in the value of learning with the internet, and they trust schools to make the right decisions to keep students safe online,” said Patricia Bothwell, Vice President and General Manager for Safety & Productivity at GoGuardian. “With almost 9 out of 10 students in the U.S. now using a device as part of their daily instruction, it’s more important than ever to provide schools with thoughtful and comprehensive approaches to student safety, privacy, and security.”

With nearly all respondents agreeing it is a school’s responsibility to put educational technologies in place to prevent students from accessing harmful or explicit content, there was also consensus around trust in school systems. More than 83% of those polled indicated they trust their school system to make informed decisions about which online technologies are appropriate for school use. Ensuring student data is not shared or sold was a key priority for survey respondents when measuring comfortability with online educational technologies.

Additional details and visual representations of key survey findings from Morning Consult can be found here.

This press release originally appeared online.

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