Practice what you preach – Adults need Dig Cit lessons too!

Before handing over devices to kids, we are responsible for teaching digital citizenship to kids. We want kids to use their devices appropriately and efficiently, and we want the devices to be used as tools for learning. After all, you use your devices for learning about the world – and the digital world can be full of information. I mean, you probably do learn about people when you read through social media posts, you learn how to cook new things when you search for recipes, etc…

In our classrooms, we talk to little kids about oversharing, cyberbullying, and what to do when they see others being bullied. As kids get older, we add to their digital knowledge and we talk to them about their online reputations, how to properly cite sources, and how to use the internet to find the answers they are looking for.

As adults, we think that we have ‘all of the answers’ and that we are prepared to help students understand how to be good digital citizens, stay safe online, use technology to benefit them instead of hurt them. Collectively, we do a pretty good job of preparing students to be good digital citizens.

Here’s the thing though…  there is so much to learn and know about our online privacy and the things that affect our privacy aren’t simple.

Whether we pay attention or not, important decisions are being made for us by tech companies and by our government, and these decisions any person with a phone in their pocket. That means you, your kids, and your students.

Since teachers are busy teaching (and learning about science or classroom management and whatnot) most of us don’t have time to keep up with what’s going on in the tech world. We’ve all heard of Edward Snowden, but most of us don’t know why what he did really matters. It is important that you educate yourself about online privacy and that you communicate what you can to others.

You may not realize it, but when you walk around with your phone in your pocket you are sharing your location. A recent Supreme Court case and a bill passed by the House of Representatives have made it easy for people (individuals, companies, and yes … the government) to look at your data and potentially use that data to find you, make decisions about you, and for those of us who are reading this with unsavory backgrounds … the government can use your phone to convict you of crimes too.

When you download a new app to your phone, you are granting permissions for companies to collect data about you that they have no business knowing.

You probably feel like I do. I’m conflicted.

I love technology and I am at the point in my life and in this tech revolution where I don’t think I can live without it. I use my phone for banking, shopping, home security, connecting with people across the planet, taking pictures of my family, etc… I NEED technology.

On the other hand, I know that I am freely giving away information about myself and my daughter and that students are using tech in their schools (and at home) every day. I know that none of us fully understand what data we are giving away and why it matters.

That leaves me with some final thoughts.

I’m not just a teacher or a mom. I am a busy, busy lady with sparing amounts of free time. I know that I am not going to invest my free time in reading pages worth of permissions for new apps, I’m not going to get rid of my phone because I don’t understand exactly what’s happening, and I’m not going to hire a lawyer to explain what I can do to prevent anything bad from happening to me.

What I can do is take some time to educate myself about what’s happening with my online privacy. I can learn more about my online privacy and I can share some of that information with my daughter and with my students. I can also make better choices about what permissions I give to apps on my phone and what apps I use with students at school.

To help you get started, I’ve pulled some (very) interesting articles related to this topic and I’ve included some resources to help you learn a little more about online privacy. I am hopeful that you have some time to invest in educating yourself a bit more and I’m curious to find out what concerns you have about your online privacy. GI Joe was right – knowing is half the battle.

Are you a good digital citizen?  


Your 4th Amendment Rights – Does the government need a warrant to search your digital past?

Your 4th Amendment Rights – House Approves Bill to Renew Spying Powers

Net Neutrality – What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality – How Repealing Net Neutrality Could Affect Schools’ Internet Access


Webinars, Virtual Courses, & Tools:

Common Sense Media – Webinars About Digital Citizenship in Schools – A website that will help you unsubscribe from multiple websites and email subscriptions

DeSeatMe –  A website that will help you clean up your online presence

Privacy Paradox – A virtual course created by the Note To Self podcast. It’s free and it’s amazing.

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