GoGuardian Gone Too Far?

Anna Franas, PaperClip Staff/Writer

GoGuardian, a monitoring program installed on every school account, was mainly utilized during quarantine. It was initially installed to help watch over kids and even lower the rates of cheating on exams before and during remote learning.

It has been more than a full school year since lockdown, and GoGuardian is still being used by the PHS administration, but how much do we really know about it? 

GoGuardian is a program that allows teachers and administrators to view your laptop screen, track and monitor what you look at, and even call your parents or police if a particularly concerning search is entered. 

Josie Moore (a junior at PHS) was doing research for a book project in English, and she needed to look up the suicide hotline number since it was relevant to her book. 

“I wanted to put it on my poster to spread awareness,” Moore stated. “When I looked it up, it only showed the number for a matter of seconds before a gray screen popped up with the message that said something like “GoGuardian knows and tracks what you see.” She continued with the rest of her project, looking up the hotline number on her phone. 

A few minutes later, the school had tried to contact her parents; however, when her parents didn’t pick up the phone, a police officer was sent to her house for a wellness check. Moore was in her car at the time, getting prepared to go see her friends, when the officer tapped at her window.

She explained the situation to both the police officer and then her parents. She showed them her poster, and everything was all cleared up. 

The next school day, Moore went to her English teacher, Laura LaVallee, to explain the situation she had encountered. LaVallee proceeded to contact guidance to have the number unblocked and available for students to see. As of right now, it is unclear whether or not the I.T. department has fixed this issue. 

Although Moore’s situation is solved, we now have several more unanswered questions. How much do students really know about GoGuardian? Should there be a place where students can access what is and isn’t blocked? Overall do GoGuardian’s pros outweigh its cons?

Some of its pros include the ability to aid students if they are possibly troubled by mental health issues. GoGuardian has a feature, called Beacon, that can flag and detect problematic searches entered by students. In Moores’s case, GoGuardian had seen that she had typed in “Suicide Hotline” and flagged it. 

LaVallee stated that she has mixed feelings: “I dislike how it is like big brother watching over your shoulder, but I do feel like it is important for kids who are in crisis to get the help that they need as quickly as possible,” 

Overall she said that, although it’s difficult, the pros do outweigh the cons. “If a student is in need of help then it’s better to have a plan in place just in case.” 

Moore herself even had said that as a student it is hard for her to see a good side to GoGuardian viewing and monitoring everything that she searches; however, in this case, she is glad that there is a plan in place in case a student actually needs help. 

Overall, both students and teachers alike find the situations GoGuardian poses tricky. On one hand, it seems to be a bit too invasive for people’s liking, but on the other hand, it acts as a safety net for students who could be possibly struggling. There is no clear right and wrong when it comes to GoGuardian, and in the end, it’s better to err on the side of safety. 

Suicide Hotline number: 800-273-8255