Know the Deal: The Value of Privacy Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 6 to 8

Duration: 60-90 minutes class time, plus time in class or at home to complete the evaluation task

This lesson was created by MediaSmarts for Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial privacy protection authorities.


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.

Learning Outcomes

Personal data:

Students will understand:

  • the concept of personal data
  • the concept of pseudonymity and masking one's identity
  • that privacy is valuable and a fundamental human right and it means you have a choice of what personal information to share and with whom
  • that online activity may leave traces which can contain personal data

Students will develop the ability to:

  • recognize types of personal data that can be used to directly identify individuals, and technical data that can be used to monitor and identify a person online

Understanding the digital environment:

Students will understand:

  • the concept of information architecture, and the collection, structure, and processing of information
  • how to recognize key players in the digital economy
  • the systems that are used to market products and offer free services for the purpose of establishing personalized user profiles (including that the majority of such offers of services entail collecting and using personal data as well as storing this information in a database)
  • what data are collected and stored when they use the Internet, a social network or a service

Students will develop the ability to:

  • identify the types of technical data collected when they are online
  • find the terms and conditions for use of their personal data
  • give examples of digital services whose economic model involves – or does not involve – the collection of personal data

Managing data:

Students will understand:

  • how to better protect themselves online
  • their rights and responsibilities under the terms and conditions of online services
  • how to manage the settings of the online applications and services that they use to safeguard their personal data

Students will develop the ability to:

  • use available procedures to protect their personal data and control sharing their personal information
  • manage the security and privacy settings of the accounts, profiles and devices they use

This lesson plan also addresses the development of several key privacy education competencies in the Personal Data Protection Competency Framework for School Students, including:

  • Understanding the concept of personal data
  • Understanding the digital environment – technical aspects
  • Understanding personal data regulations – controlling the use of personal information

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit