January 28th is “Data Privacy Day”. We need to make more of an effort to make students aware of the implications of the lack of privacy they seem so comfortable with.
So many of us, young and old alike, are increasingly comfortable sharing so much about ourselves online, and opening our homes to devices that listen and watch. Yet these practices make as targets. Targets for astroturfing aimed specifically at people with our likes, interests, and demographics. Targets for bad actors to try and take advantage of in many different ways. Targets for federal, state, and local law enforcement to potentially listen and watch, often because of mistaken assumptions or because of someone we may have associated with (a neighbor, old friend, relation) that may or may not be up to something legally questionable.
As a society, and as educators, we need to help students simply by a little more aware of this. Today's young students are growing up in an unprecedented age of digital technology impact, and society absolutely must be aware and engaged in the dialogue about the implications of these rapid changes. Governments and corporations will only advocate for or consider constraints for the sake of safety when they are compelled to do so through the voices of their constituents and customers. That conversation can't happen if we just don't know, or don't care.
I'm looking to frighten kids, by any means, but to carefully get them thinking. The trendy new interactive digital toys they can talk to can potentially be listened to by people they've never met. Parents need to know this and consider it, and demand better security controls from product manufacturers. And those ubiquitous smart phones in younger and younger hands bring with them many similar challenges.
This isn't a fun or simple issue. But the more we know, the better equipped we are to consider the way forward, and teach students to exercise a some caution, and consider how what they do with these devices can have unexpected results.
Here are some great resources from StaySafeOnline.org that have been made available to learn more about data privacy:
Resources from StaySafeOnline.org: https://staysafeonline.org/resources/
Tips for Parents on Raising Privacy-Savvy Kids (good for educators to look over as well):
So let's be careful out there (and teach our kids to be careful too)!