Having the Talk?

Having the Talk?

The new school year is about to start and so is the season when parents are posting pictures on social media of their adorable moppets going back to school. But in today’s connected world their pictures can circulate the online world to a wide audience instead of going into a hardcopy scrapbook only to be shared with grandma. And what do kids think of their pictures and anecdotes being shared online? What do they think about privacy? Their privacy? What are their ideas of being private in a connected world?

Most of us share information about our kids because we are proud, because we want the world to know that it’s their first day of school or they did something silly that we think is funny. But we need to stop and think what are we teaching our kids about privacy and how do we teach them to be smart about protecting their privacy. Eventually, kids will have a tremendous digital catalog of their information. So I think it’s never too early to have “the privacy talk” with kids. Because preparing the next generation to protect their privacy, means teaching our kids now what they can do to protect themselves tomorrow.

I recently read an article on college campuses scanning students’ eyeballs instead of their student ID’s. And even though the scanning is voluntary, it would behoove us to discuss the implications of such retinal scan. And this is a time when having empowered students to advocate for their privacy is essential. Some students described this program as “creepy and unnecessary” and they have a right to feel that way but it seems that few knew they could decline being scanned or that they should.

So as we take pictures of our adorable little kids, we need to keep in mind how we are preparing them to advocate for their privacy. There are a few resources we can turn to in order to help us have “the talk” with our kids.

Connect Safely has an ever growing collection of clearly written guidebooks that help us discern the different apps, services and different platforms that are popular with kids and teenagers.

iKeepSafe is one of my favorite resources. They have a section dedicated to parents including a “Parent’s guide to Facebook.” Maybe now I can keep up with my kids…..seriously.

The Family Online Safety Institute, commonly referred to as FOSI has a great digital parenting guide, you can search for resources by age group and they have a great “Seven Steps to Good Digital Parenting” guide.

Common Sense Media has information to help kids (and parents) navigate the world of media and technology. When it comes to privacy and internet safety they have tips and tools for all of us. I particularly like the section about good usernames, passwords and what is appropriate to share.

The FTC has a portal on kid’s online safety too! It has great information on how to talk to kids about privacy and how to talk to kids on using social media and the benefits and risks of socializing online and how to make responsible decisions.

We can’t assume that because they let us take their picture and they are our kids we have their implied consent. We need to make sure that this is what they really want to show to the world. And if we can’t, at a minimum we should allow them to decide what to keep and what to exclude from their digital record. Having the privacy talk with our kids will help them protect those experiences that are personal and decide what the world can know about them. We need to all be responsible about their digital catalog. Technology and apps have given us a tremendous insight into our own lives but also to the lives of others and as we collect this data we need to be aware of what it means to create that history online.



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