Privacy Pursuit: Protecting Your Privacy Lesson Plan

Grades: 4-5

Duration: 1 ½ to 2 hours

About the Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

This lesson plan was developed by MediaSmarts for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, to be used with the IPC's Privacy Pursuit! activity booklet.

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students review what the word “privacy” means in an online context and learn key privacy-related vocabulary. They explore different privacy risks and then learn practical techniques and strategies to manage and protect their privacy. Students then demonstrate their understanding of these strategies by illustrating them. Finally, students revisit material from earlier in the lesson and consider how their actions might put other people’s privacy at risk.

Learning Outcomes

Students will understand the following key concepts/big ideas:

Digital media are networked

  • Devices that are connected to the internet send information to each other

Digital media are shareable and persistent

  • Once you post something it can stay online or be shared with others forever and can be copied, altered, and used in ways you don’t like

Digital media have unanticipated audiences

  • Things that you do with devices connected to the internet may be seen by people you don’t know about

Interactions through digital media can have a real impact

  • Our actions and decisions online can affect our and others’ privacy

Students will learn the following essential domain knowledge:

Privacy and Security:

  • Key vocabulary related to online privacy
  • Privacy risks include scams, embarrassment, hurting people’s feelings, cyberbullying and threats to property or personal safety
  • Taking proactive steps to manage your privacy can limit privacy risks
  • Be careful what personal information you share online
  • Privacy settings can control who sees what you post
  • Passwords are an important tool to protect your privacy
  • Some websites, apps and services should be previewed by trusted adults, or not used by children at all
  • Create pseudonymous usernames and avatars (i.e. ones that mask your identity) for online gaming
  • Trusted adults are important resources for help-seeking before and after privacy risks occur
  • Don’t click on unknown links or download files from unknown senders

Ethics and Empathy:

  • What you do online can also affect other people’s privacy

Students will learn how to:

  • Use: Manage privacy risks by proactively employing privacy strategies
  • Understand: Identify the privacy risks of different devices, apps and online activities
  • Engage: Make good choices about others’ privacy

Personal Data Protection Competencies:

Personal Data:

  • I understand what is involved in the concept of personal data, defined as any data—whether or not it was made public—about an identifiable individual;
  • I know and understand the concept of pseudonymity and masking one’s identity
  • I can give examples of personal data that can directly identify individuals (civil/family status, photo of a student in the class, etc.) and technical data that can monitor the activities of a person and identify them (cookies, geolocation data, etc.)

Understanding the Digital Environment

  • I know what the internet and its services are (social networks, mobile applications, the cloud, etc.)
  • I know the key IT risks and the importance of digital security and understand the need to ensure the physical and logical security of a digital environment.
  • I am careful to only share the personal data that is absolutely necessary to register for a service
  • I know that there are ways to protect myself online

Managing my Data

  • I know that, to use certain online services, my consent or consent of my parents/legal guardians is required
  • I use procedures available to protect my personal data

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

Privacy Pursuit! Activity Booklet