This school year the IT department here in our overly-large school district implimented a new system that allows students to connect their personal devices to the network without all the paperwork previously required. As best I can tell, it works as advertised about 85% of the time (with lots of noise about the other 15%).

However, the interesting part is that this process seems to have triggered a growing number of students, especially in high school, who suspect that someone, somewhere in some mysterious district office is watching all their traffic and digitally inspecting all the files they’re carrying.

How charmingly naive!

I wonder if many of the same kids think about the vast amounts of data they volunteer every day to Google, Facebook, Instagram, their wireless carrier, SnapChat, Twitter, Candy Crush, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so many more.

Not to mention the little bits of data sucked up by the NSA and other government agencies, organizations for which they were never offered 34 pages of a terms of service or privacy policy followed by an “I accept” button to be clicked without reading.

For this particular conspiracy theory, we try to explain to them that our school system, as bureaucratic as it is, doesn’t have the resources to monitor all the traffic on our little corner of the internet.

However, I think the bigger issue we do not address is helping students (and their teachers) understand all that information about them that’s being collected and stored every second they are online. Not to mention the many other data points they contribute to the mix as a standard part of attending school.