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.
The Raising Ethical Kids For a Networked World tutorial examines some of the moral dilemmas that kids face in their online activities and shares some strategies to help them build the social and emotional intelligence that’s needed to support ethical decision making – and build resiliency if things go wrong.
The Parenting the Digital Generation workshop looks at the various activities kids love to do online and offers tips and strategies for everything from Facebook privacy settings, online shopping, cyberbullying, to protecting your computer from viruses.
In my previous post I briefly mentioned the issue of passwords. The topic of passwords may not be as top-of-mind as sexting or bullying, but it’s important, and it definitely deserves some attention at home. Consider this the next topic for your dinnertime conversation.
Do young people care about privacy? Participants in MediaSmarts’ 2012 focus groups told us that they valued their privacy highly, despite being enthusiastic participants in platforms and activities that adults see as being about nothing but sharing and broadcasting. Looking at the findings from our Young Canadians in a Wired World survey of more than five thousand students from every province and territory in Canada, we can begin to understand that contradiction: young people may not care that much about what we think of as privacy, but they care very much about control – control over who can see what they post, over who can track them digitally and, most especially, over how other people see them.
Snapchat, the mobile app that lets users send “self-destructing” photos, has the distinction of being the only digital tool that does not have a single redeeming feature. While the moral panic associated with blogs, cell phones, social networks and online games has largely faded in grudging recognition of their more positive uses (indeed, research shows that many parents have actually helped their children lie about their age register for Facebook accounts), Snapchat is seen as the Q-tip of the digital age: its sole function is to do the thing that you’re warned not to do on the box.