Lesson Plan

Privacy Pursuit: The Value of Privacy

Lesson Plan

Grades: 6-7

Duration: 1 to 1 ½ 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 learn how their personal information is key to how most of the “free” apps and platforms they use make money. They learn practical strategies and tools for managing their privacy and plan how these can be used to limit what audiences have access to their personal information.

Learning Outcomes

Students will understand the following key concepts/big ideas:

Media have commercial considerations

  • Media works such as apps and websites that seem to be free are usually paid for with your attention, your personal information, or both

Digital media are networked

  • Information on a connected network can reach any part of that network

Digital media are shareable and persistent

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

Digital media have unanticipated audiences

  • Things you post online – and information collected about you – may be seen by people you didn’t expect and may not even know about

Students will learn the following essential domain knowledge:

Privacy and Security:

  • 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 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

Consumer Awareness

  • Most “free” apps make money from selling advertising, and in some cases by collecting and selling personal information
  • Advertisers will pay more if ads are targeted to you using your personal information
  • Platforms also use your personal information to show or recommend content that will keep you interested and viewing ads

Students will learn how to:

  • Use: Manage privacy risks by proactively employing privacy strategies
  • Understand: Analyze the privacy risks of different devices, apps and online activities
  • Engage: Develop strategies for limiting the impact of data collection on their online experience

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; I know digital security is important 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
  • I assess my practices and develop problem-solving and learning reflexes— namely about security—by identifying resources (user communities and forums, tutorials, etc.)
  • I know who the key player groups in the digital economy are (e.g., ISPs, service providers, developers, curators, etc.)
  • I understand the systems used to market products and offer free services (loyalty cards, targeted advertising via cookies, setting up user accounts, subscribing to newsletters, etc.), for the purpose of establishing personalized user profiles
  • I can give examples of digital services whose economic model involves — or does not involve — the collection of personal data

Managing my Data

  • I know that I can manage the settings of the online applications and services that I use.
  • 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

Lesson Kit: