Buying an online educational app for your child? Do not read this government advice

New Delhi, First published Dec 24, 2021 10:18 AM IST

Think carefully before you sign up for your child’s future. This is the message that the Narendra Modi government is sending to students and all stakeholders in school education before they decide to choose the online content and training offered by a group of educational technology companies. The Ministry of Education issued a set of prohibited matters in this regard.

Among the points mentioned, the most important aspect pointed out by the government is that the offer of free services promised by some companies should be carefully evaluated. The need to issue a consultation arose after the Department of School Education and Literacy became aware of reports that some educational technology companies had lured parents under the pretext of providing free services and signing an EFT authorization or activating automatic deduction. A special feature targeting vulnerable families.

Let’s take a look at what the consultant asks parents to do:

* Some education technology companies offer an excellent free business model as many of their services appear to be free at first. However, to access in-depth learning, students need to opt for the paid subscription. Activating automatic deduction will help Ed-tech companies deduct fees without prior notice for services you don’t even need. So don’t allow it.

* Do a detailed background check of the Ed-tech company you wish to sign up for. Read their terms and conditions before giving the green light to accept their learning software/device as your IP address and/or personal data may be tracked.

* Check the quality of the content promised by Ed-tech and make sure it matches the curriculum and scope of the study. The content should also be easy for your child to understand. Always ask for a tax invoice statement when purchasing educational devices preloaded with contents, or to purchase the App or Learn Pendrive.

* Clear all your doubts regarding payments and educational content before investing your money in any Ed-tech company.

* Activate parental controls and other security features on the device, within the app or browser. It may help to limit access to certain content and reduce spending on app purchases. At the same time, educate your child about the features in education apps that are used to encourage more spending. Tell them about the typical marketing strategies Ed-tech companies use.

* Study online students’ or parents’ opinions about Ed-tech companies regarding marketing scams or any grievances. Parents can provide suggestions and reviews that may benefit others. Before filing a complaint, make sure you have evidence in the form of recorded spam calls or a mandatory subscription to education packages without full consent.

Now let’s take a look at what the consultant asks parents to pay attention to

* Don’t blindly trust advertisements from educational technology companies or sign up for any loans you may not be aware of. At the same time, don’t fall in love with unverified “success stories” by educational technology companies.

* Do not install any Ed-tech mobile application without validating its authenticity. Avoid registering a credit/debit card for an app membership. Set a maximum expense limit for each transaction. Also, do not allow purchases without parental consent. To avoid in-app purchases; OTP-based payment methods can be approved as per RBI guidelines.

* Do not share your bank account details and OTP number with any sales or marketing personnel. Beware of cyber fraud. Avoid adding your data like email, contact numbers, card details, addresses, etc. online as the data can be sold or later used for fraud attacks.

* Do not share any videos and selfies. Be careful not to turn on the video feature or make video calls on unverified platforms. Make your child’s safety a top priority.

* Do not sign up for unverified courses because of their false promises.

* Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know, and don’t open any attachments or popups.

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Last update Dec 24, 2021 10:18 AM IST


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