GoGuardian: A danger to student privacy or a useful online tool?

Pro GoGuardian is a very controversial platform at Berkeley High School. While many teachers use it often and appreciate it, students don’t always share the same views.


GoGuardian is a very controversial platform at Berkeley High School. While many teachers use it often and appreciate it, students don’t always share the same views. While many students are hesitant to accept the platform, it can be very beneficial to both students and teachers. The internet is a very distracting place, and with access to so much other than the task they’re given, students may find it difficult to get their work done online. This can be difficult for students, because they can get farther behind in their work, and it can be burdensome for teachers who are unable to monitor their students’ online activity. GoGuardian, however, can relieve some of this difficult burden, and keep students on task while allowing teachers to guide their learning more thoroughly and efficiently. 

Access to computers in the classroom at BHS can be a great tool, but students do have the ability to take advantage of it. In a study conducted by Bernard R. Mccoy at the University of Nebraska, including students from 26 different states, “Respondents spent an average of 20.9 percent of class time using a digital device for non-class purposes.” With access to the internet during class, students are able to cheat, which is not only immoral but also slows and harms students’ learning capabilities, because when cheating, students don’t learn topics, they often just copy and paste. 

GoGuardian can help students to keep this from happening in many different ways. “Monitoring my students is often enough to keep them on task,” stated Mr. Smith, a World History teacher at BHS. However, if this is not enough, teachers do have the ability to conversate with their students using the chat feature, sending them a message to fixate on their work, which is a helpful push in the right direction for many students. Furthermore, if that is still not enough, teachers can close or block certain tabs on students’ computers while connected to GoGuardian, ensuring that their students aren’t able to be off task during class. This ultimately aids and benefits students in the long run, because without so many distractions, their work can get done more efficiently, which leads to a better understanding of the topics being learned. 

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from GoGuardian. It has made teachers’ lives easier in many ways as well. Instead of having to walk around their classroom and check all their students’ computer screens one by one, they can access them all on their own computers. They’re also able to be more confident that their students are staying on track and getting their work done. Many BHS teachers appreciate GoGuardian while understanding that there are many different ways to use the platform. 

“I think it’s an awesome tool with great efficacy that responsible teachers can use.  I do think that some ways of using it are more efficient than others because I still want to empower students’ ability to make their own decisions and to also deal with the consequences of those decisions,” Mr. Smith stated. This is a great approach to GoGuardian because it recognizes how in the right hands, it can be used very positively. 

While some think that GoGuardian limits students too much, this is untrue. In the wrong hands, it can of course be overused and be an abuse of power. However, when used correctly, GoGuardian does the exact opposite and helps students and teachers alike to be confident in their work and remain focused. GoGuardian isn’t meant to overly control and limit students; It is supposed to keep them on track, while still letting their creativity and research shine through. 

GoGuardian is a great tool that comes with so many benefits. It can prevent students from cheating, keep them on task, and allow an easy way to chat with teachers. In addition, it helps teachers to be sure about their students’ activity. GoGuardian is so beneficial because it optimizes the learning being positively done in the classroom.

– Sophie Dreskin


Since GoGuardian was founded in 2014, its popularity has grown exponentially. Currently, it monitors 27 million students in over ten thousand schools. While the intentions of those using GoGuardian are good, this technology is often misused. GoGuardian is incredibly widespread at Berkeley High School, with every teacher on campus having access to it. But what most students don’t know is that this surveillance has the ability to go beyond the classroom, and even beyond the school day. 

Essentially, GoGuardian is a form of tracking software that monitors what students are doing on their school accounts. Most students know it as the app on their Chromebooks that allows teachers to see and control their screen, but there’s much more to it than that. 

When GoGuardian was originally created, its main purpose was to stop students from accessing inappropriate content. Instead of simply using manual monitoring to do this, GoGuardian created a “flag system” that was based on a list of keywords that the GoGuardian team had deemed offensive. While in theory, this seemed effective, it has actually led to many non-explicit websites being “flagged,” like therapy websites, sexual health websites, and even college websites, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group.

When a website is flagged, administrators are sent an alert, detailing what the flagged website was, along with the student’s search history both before and after the incident. And while the flag system does have the potential to help struggling students, its low accuracy rates make it unreliable. This constant monitoring of student activity is a privacy violation — especially given that the monitoring doesn’t end when the final school bell rings.

GoGuardian isn’t installed only on school computers; it’s also attached to school accounts. This means that anytime a student signs onto a device with their school account, be it on a school computer or a personal computer, GoGuardian — and, potentially, teachers — see it. And if the search history on those devices is flagged by GoGuardian while school isn’t in session, law enforcement is sometimes contacted. According to a survey by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), 44 percent of teachers say that at least one of their students has been contacted by law enforcement due to an alert from GoGuardian.

In theory, keeping law enforcement in the loop could help protect students from potential threats. However, GoGuardian’s flagging system is inaccurate, with less than 50 percent of flagged sites actually being inappropriate or dangerous, according to EFF. These sites have included everything from bible.com to an Etsy listing for a Cheeto shaped like a mushroom. Additionally, LGBTQ+ students are disproportionately targeted by this flag system. According to the CDT, 29 percent of LGBTQ+ students say that either they or someone they know has been outed due to student activity monitoring.

While using GoGuardian has made it much more difficult for students to use AI or cheat on online tests, there are other solutions to this problem. Google Forms offers a locked mode, so when students are completing tests they are unable to leave the form without alerting their teacher. Additionally, all WiFi routers have apps capable of blocking websites directly through WiFi. With resources like these, AI systems, game websites, and social media could be blocked without invading students’ privacy.

While GoGuardian may have been created, and used, with good intentions, the threat to students’ privacy and mental health is too great to ignore. The money spent on this technology would be better used by hiring more counselors who could better support students’ mental health. With a multitude of other resources available to the school district, it is time for them to get rid of GoGuardian once and for all to prioritize student welfare.

– Penelope Purchase