Media Literacy

Teens on Digital Privacy

November 6, 2015

Every year I discuss the issue of Digital Privacy with my 7th grade students and they learn that just because they can take someone's picture with their cell phone doesn't mean they should. In a junior high building, you can imagine how susceptible some students are to having their privacy violated by others who just want a picture of them. Where I teach, objects of crushes are definitely at-risk! With so many students engaged in social media, these images can often be spread and shared without the subject's knowledge or consent.

Each year my students discuss and learn about this topic, a recurring theme begins to take over the conversation: students start to share frustration with family members who violate their right to privacy when it comes to posting images online. My students agreed that their parents didn't always respect their right to privacy and, in fact, felt they were not a part of the conversation at all when it came to what their parents were posting about them online.

Parents are in control--I get it. I am a parent of a lovely nine year-old and I do believe I have the right to share what I'd like to share. However, if I knew a particular post really upset my daughter, embarrassed her, subjected her to ridicule...would that make me think twice? I can tell you from teaching and working with junior high students the past five years, it has made me think about this topic quite a bit.

I believe it was two years ago I began asking my daughter's permission before I posted any pictures or stories about her online as a result of a conversation with students. While some people might think that is odd or even giving her too much control, let me explain why I don't see it that way at all. I realized I would hate it if she had that much control over sharing pics and information about me.

Let's think about it. How many times has my daughter seen me lose my temper? Fail at something? Wake up with funny hair? What if she not only saw those things, but then shared little stories or photos with 800 of her closest social media friends? I am pretty sure I would be mortified in some cases. That's when it really clicked for me.

My Facebook page is really an ode to my daughter because I respect my OWN privacy so much that I don't really share anything about me on my own page--the majority of my posts were about her! When I began to think of it and see it that way, it almost became laughable that I was so quick to share so much about her when I was so careful about what I shared about me.

Earlier this week, I had several students who asked me to please talk to their parents about this topic, because their parents did not want to hear them out when they tried broaching the subject at home. I figured I would hunt for good articles to share with their parents, but I couldn't really find anything that I felt would strike a chord with them. I had an idea for a video where my students could share how they felt about what their parents were posting about them online. It would be somewhat anonymous, voluntary and honest.

I shared the video on my own Facebook page after we completed it, and I was so excited to share with my students that their video had reached hundreds of people within hours. The video received a lot of positive feedback, a little negative feedback, but most importantly, it started a dialogue. As more and more people become engaged online, we really need to consider the privacy of others--not just our children, but everyone.

Here's a link to where the video was originally posted:

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Media Literacy
  • Parent Partnership
  • Student Voice
  • 6-8 Middle School

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Edutopia is an initiative of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.