Young people today spend large amounts of time sharing parts of their personal lives online playing games, “checking in” with geolocation apps, posting photos and catching up with friends through social media. But despite this openness, privacy does indeed matter to youth, especially with their online actions being increasingly monitored by parents, educators, and corporations.
Children and youth who use the Internet are highly attuned to surveillance practices.  Research conducted by MediaSmarts demonstrates that for young Canadians surveillance is part of everyday life. While youth once considered the Internet to be a private space where they and their peers could play, communicate, and experiment, these attitudes have largely disappeared: on the contrary, youth now regard the Internet as a completely monitored space.  This surveillance of youth is primarily conducted by parents, teachers/schools, and corporations.
Internationally, a wide range of legislation has been developed in order to manage and protect individual’s personal information. Canada’s public and private sector are governed separately in terms of privacy protection.
There is a common misconception that youth are not concerned with privacy. On the contrary, though, there is significant evidence to suggest that privacy is a major concern among youth, particularly when it comes to their actions online.  As a result of this concern, young Canadians have developed a wide range of techniques to resist surveillance or negotiate their own privacy.
The word surveillance comes from the French verb “surveiller”, which, when translated, means “to watch over”.  Sociologist and surveillance scholar David Lyon defines surveillance as “any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnered”.  Increasingly, information gathering and surveillance technologies are becoming more and more common as part of everyday life and routines.