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Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School

Schools now routinely direct children online to do their schoolwork, thereby exposing them to tracking of their online behavior and subsequent targeted marketing. This is part of the evolution of how marketing companies use digital marketing, ensuring that children and adolescents are constantly connected and available to them. Moreover, because digital technologies enable extensive personalization, they amplify opportunities for marketers to control what children see in the private world of their digital devices as well as what they see in public spaces. This year’s annual report on schoolhouse commercialism trends considers how schools facilitate the work of digital marketers and examines the consequent threats to children’s privacy, their physical and psychological well-being, and the integrity of the education they receive. Constant digital surveillance and marketing at school combine to normalize for children the unquestioned role that corporations play in their education and in their lives more generally.