Informed Youth Promote Clarity for All

It’s something we’ve all done before: scrolled past a wall of text to click “I Agree” with no idea what we’ve agreed to. Then, when we’re using the platform, messages like “We’ve made some changes to our Terms and Conditions” simply remind us that we probably didn’t read them in the first place. Our world is becoming more and more influenced by the data that’s being collected about us. For young people in particular, this can lead to serious and unexpected consequences that could affect their entire lives.

By Samantha McAleese, research associate at MediaSmarts and
David Fowler, vice-president, marketing and communications at CIRA.

The other day I was on the phone with my sister – our land line, not a cell phone – and I said to her, “You’re my person.” This is a well-known phrase from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy; Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang used to say it to each other to cement the closeness of their friendship.

The Invisible Machine: Big Data and You

In this lesson, students examine a fictional social network profile to learn how online platforms collect data about their users. They then read an article that explains how platforms use this data and explores some of the issues this raises. Finally, they create a mind map of their own online data profile and reflect on how the data they post may be collected and used by others.

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I read an interesting Facebook post the other day, written by a teenaged girl. She said quite firmly that it was important for parents to not have their children’s passwords, for their phone or social media accounts. She talked about building trust and how insisting on knowing your kids’ passwords is the first step to them sneaking around online and getting involved in things you wish they wouldn’t.

I admit I was hoping to never get an email like this from the school:

“Some students in your child’s class have been involved in inappropriate online behaviour. Our Student Resource Officer will be doing a presentation on cyberbullying and leading a discussion about responsible actions on the internet. Please speak to your child about his/her activity online.”

Recently, my nephew, age 12, received a letter in the mail. It was addressed to him personally, by name. Inside was a photocopied article about the powers of a new virility medicine, complete with the usual graphic promises for pleasuring the ladies. The article mentioned a specific “doctor” by name, but other than that, there was no contact information or order form or any other action request. It appeared to just be spam but in paper form.

My three kids all know the password to my phone.

It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.

Privacy Rights of Children and Teens

In this lesson, students are introduced to the privacy principles that inform the Alberta and BC Personal Information Protection Acts, Québec’s An Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector and the students’ federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) relating to personal information collection online. They learn ways to find out what personal information may or has been collected by platforms that they use, how to limit data collection about themselves, and the various forms of recourse that are available to them if they feel an organization is not respecting their rights.

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Know the Deal: The Value of Privacy

In this lesson, students are introduced to the idea that privacy is a fundamental human right and that their personal information is valuable. The lesson focuses on the “economics” of personal information and that most “free” apps and online services make some or all of their revenue by collecting (and in some cases reselling) users’ personal information. Students will watch a video that illustrates the idea that they may be paying with their privacy and then discuss some of the ramifications of this. They will learn about tools and techniques for minimizing the personal information they share and create a public service announcement that helps them and their peers “know the deal” about the value of privacy.

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