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Keeping it private

Review one or several of the following scenarios with your children, then discuss what might be the best privacy solution for each one.

Goals

Study how to see privacy concerns from different peopleʼs points of view.

Understand how different scenarios call for different levels of privacy.

Let's talk

Privacy scenarios: What should you do?

Scenario 1: A kid you know at school gets bitten by a weird insect that causes an ugly multicolored rash on her stomach. She doesnʼt want other people to know.

  • Do other people have a right to know?
  • Should you be the one to tell them?

Scenario 2: Someone writes in their personal journal. Another person copies what they wrote and posts it online.

  • Was the other person wrong to post the journal entry?
  • How would you feel if someone did this with something you intended to keep private?

Scenario 3: Someone posts, “Have a good vacation,” on a friendʼs social media page.

  • Had the friend announced publicly that they were going away? Did they want everybody to know?
  • Are there more private ways to communicate this message – such as sending a direct message or text?

Scenario 4: You know a student made a fake social media account impersonating another student in a negative way and includes their personal information.

  • Does the student have a right to know?
  • Should someone tell a teacher or other trusted adult? How? What could happen if nobody does?
  • It’s not obvious who made it, but you know who did it. Should you give this information to a trusted adult?

Activity

Review four scenarios with your children and discuss how each one might have a different privacy solution.

Takeaway

Different situations call for different responses online and offline. It’s always important to respect other people’s privacy choices, even if they aren’t the choices you’d make yourself.

Vocabulary 

Online privacy

A broad term that usually means the ability to control what information you share about yourself online and who can see and share it.

Digital footprint

Your digital footprint is all the information about you that appears online. This can mean anything from photos, audio, videos, and texts to “likes” and comments you post on friendsʼ profiles. Just as your footsteps leave prints on the ground while you walk, what you post online leaves a trail as well.

Reputation

The ideas, opinions, impressions, or beliefs that other people have about you; something that you can’t be totally sure about but that you usually want to be positive or good.

Personal information

Information that identifies a specific person – for example, your name, street address, phone number, Social Security number, email address, etc. – is called personal (or sensitive) info. Really think carefully before sharing this kind of information online.

Oversharing

Sharing too much online – usually this is about sharing too much personal information or just too much about yourself in a certain situation or conversation online.

Settings

This is the area in any digital product, app, website, etc., where you can define or adjust what you share and how your account is handled – including your privacy settings.