I’ve recently become the chauffeur for my son and his group of friends, as they go to for a weekly gaming afternoon/hangout at one boy’s house. It’s clear that my role as the driver is to be invisible – they talk and goof around with each other in the car as if I’m not there, and if I do interject in their conversation, there’s a moment when they all freeze, confused as to where this voice from above came from, before ignoring it and carrying on. I’m there to hover on the outside, not to get involved.
Despite their enthusiastic participation in social media, it’s a mistake to think that young people don’t care about privacy. MediaSmarts’ 2014 study Young Canadians in a Wired World, which surveyed over 5,000 students across Canada on their experiences with and attitudes towards digital media, found that they do have very strong feelings about their privacy, and take significant steps to control it.
When we think about the privacy risks that youth face online, we tend to think in terms of teens and tweens oversharing on cell phones and social networks. Increasingly, though, children are facing privacy issues younger and younger: according to a 2014 study from the UK, kids aged 13-14 said they were eight and a half years old when they first went online, kids aged 11-12 said they were eight and kids aged nine to ten said they had gone online when they were just six years old.