While India is a free market for businesses, the government has always taken precautions to ensure that innocent citizens are not exploited – particularly when it comes to their money or privacy. In keeping with this strategy, the government recently released an advise urging parents and kids to exercise caution when using EdTech platforms.

As the CEO of a Vernacular EdTech startup that provides government school children with high-quality instructional content in regional languages, my team frequently engages with parents and students who are completely unfamiliar with computers, smartphones, and the internet. While our solutions are funded by some of India's most well-known socially responsible organisations and made freely available to students, we frequently engage with parents and students to educate them on the various personal, legal, financial, and privacy-related loopholes to be aware of when dealing with traditional EdTech platforms.

If you're a parent or student who's already using or planning to sign up for an EdTech platform, here are some things to keep an eye out for:

  • Authenticity, validity, and compliance are all important factors to consider.
  • Check the number of downloads and positive reviews on the Android Play Store or the Apple AppStore, or cross-check the domain name of the website with credible sources to ensure that the EdTech platform you're subscribing to is genuine.
  • Make sure the stuff you're providing is in line with the school's curriculum. If the material isn't tied to a syllabus, it's advisable to avoid it. If you still want to subscribe, be sure the courseware has been approved by a reputable source.
  • Without independently verifying the accuracy of such information, do not believe "Success Stories" or a track record of past performance. Please clarify any questions or concerns before giving any money to an EdTech company.
  • Activate parental controls and safety settings on your device as well as the EdTech app/platform, as this will restrict students' access to material and disable/limit any financial transactions made through in-app purchases.

Financial stumbling blocks

  • Be wary of EdTech businesses that use a 'Freemium' pricing model, in which many of their services are initially free, but students must pay for a subscription or make in-app purchases to maintain access.
  • For subscription costs, avoid or disable the 'Auto Debit' option, and make sure you haven't entered any credit or debit cards with no transaction limitations. Also, be wary of advertisements that encourage you to take out loans to pay for your subscription.
  • If you receive calls harassing you or pressuring you to sign up for educational packages without your authorization, make a note of it and report it to the authorities. Never give up your bank account information, OTPs, or open any links/attachments during such conversations.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about an EdTech company's pricing structure, payment plan, or approved payment methods, please address them before signing up for a service. Also, make sure you get a tax invoice from the company.

Privacy protections

  • Before installing an EdTech app or subscribing to an EdTech platform, always read the Terms & Conditions (T&C) and Privacy Policy paperwork. Both materials are freely accessible on any company's website.
  • Be aware of the personal and device-related data that the EdTech company may track before agreeing the T&C and Privacy Policy. Do not sign up if you are unhappy with any personal or device-related data points.
  • When utilising such sites, avoid uploading personal images, videos, or any other information, as the information you submit could be sold or exploited. Avoid using the video feature or participating in video calls on EdTech platforms that aren't verified.

On a general note, before using any EdTech platform, it is essential to read the child safety requirements outlined in the PRAGYATA recommendations published by the Ministry of Education, Government of India.

Having said that, not all EdTech suppliers are out to defraud or steal from you. Many EdTech firms adhere to internationally recognised business standards; nonetheless, it is critical for parents and kids to be aware of those that do not. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has announced the launch of the India EdTech Consortium (IEC), which includes India's major EdTech enterprises.

The IEC intends to build a two-tier grievance redressal mechanism and adopt a single "Code of Conduct" to ensure that the industry's good influence reaches every deserving customer while safeguarding their interests and supporting their rights. As more students become a part of the online education ecosystem, this is a critical step toward protecting learners while also preparing them for the future. Having said that, not all EdTech suppliers are out to defraud or steal from you. Many EdTech firms adhere to internationally recognised business standards; nonetheless, it is critical for parents and children to be aware of those that do not.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has announced the launch of the India EdTech Consortium (IEC), which includes India's major EdTech enterprises. The IEC intends to build a two-tier grievance redressal mechanism and adopt a single "Code of Conduct" to ensure that the industry's good influence reaches every deserving customer while safeguarding their interests and supporting their rights. As more students become a part of the online education ecosystem, this is a critical step toward protecting learners while also preparing them for the future.