Kids for Sale: New education resource raises awareness of marketing and privacy issues on the Web

Ottawa, June 16, 2009 – To reflect new challenges faced by children and teens in virtual online worlds and social networking sites, Media Awareness Network (MNet) today launched a new version of its Kids for Sale: Online privacy and marketing professional development workshop. The extensive updating of the popular resource was made possible through funding from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

"Young children are becoming accustomed to giving away private information on commercial Web sites, so it's not surprising that by the time they reach adolescence, they are posting detailed personal information, including names, addresses and photos, on social networking sites," says MNet's Co-Executive Director Jane Tallim. "Our new Kids for Sale workshop raises awareness of privacy and marketing issues with educators so they can teach young people how to protect their personal information online."

The updated resource emphasizes the importance of giving students critical thinking skills to understand online privacy issues, including the risks associated with posting content on sites such as MySpace and Facebook, where users have no proprietary rights over their content and there can be long term ramifications for impulsive behaviour.

"In the past, indiscrete incidents of youthful bravado could be swept under the carpet as people moved into the responsible sphere of adulthood," said Ms. Tallim. "Today, photos and comments of these incidents can remain online potentially forever."

The workshop includes an examination of Web site privacy policies and relevant privacy legislation and industry codes and guidelines. The resource also explores marketing concerns related to commercial environments that attract children, including branded immersive environments, advergames and virtual worlds.

Kids for Sale meets the objectives of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to support the development of education-based approaches to improving the state of online privacy for young people. It is part of MNet's popular Web Awareness Workshop Series program, which is available through licensing agreements to approximately two-thirds of Canadian schools.

More information on Kids for Sale and the Web Awareness Workshop Series can be found on MNet's Web site at /en/learningtutorialsandmodules/web-awareness-workshop-series-teachers-introduction.

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Media Awareness Network (MNet) is a Canadian not-for-profit centre of expertise in media literacy. Its vision is to ensure children and youth possess the necessary critical thinking skills and tools to understand and actively engage with media. MNet's programs are funded by its public and private sector sponsors and partners, who include: CTVglobemedia • Canwest • TELUS • CTV • Canadian Internet Registration Authority • National Film Board of Canada • Government of Canada.

For more information, contact:

Ann Marie Paquet
Communications Officer
Media Awareness Network
Tel: (613) 224-7721, Ext. 231