The first step to ensuring the safety of students online is to take the time to actually read privacy policies. Yes, this will be tedious, but more importantly, it is necessary. In order to pass a digital awareness onto students, educators must develop one for themselves first.
The next step is summarizing and discussing the privacy policies with students. I’m not saying that educators should force their students to read and be assessed on their understanding of the long privacy policies that are included within each and every technology they are using. I do not want students to hate their teachers, which will certainly happen if that were the only solution. But teachers can certainly find ways to summarize and hold discussions as a class in order to inform students of the privacy rights they have as users and who can see what they are doing when they sign in to or use a technology.
The following step is for educators to monitor their student’s technology. Once the idea of online surveillance is broken down and explained, students will be more likely to think before they post online. Students who understand that their teachers can actually see what they have done with their time online while using sites such as Blackboard and Canvas, they will real-
ize that surveillance can be used on other sites as well. Educators should also monitor their students by observing their students as they use technology in the classroom.
One of the last steps educators can make to build a digital awareness within their students is making sure students understand the reality of privacy policies. The frightening reality is that what students put online can be viewed by almost anyone (not just their peers and teachers) if they are not careful. Through my research on the topic of privacy online, I came across takethislollipop.com, and boy was this website eye opening. Takethislollipop.com allows users to connect to their Facebook, and watch a video that shows the potential outcome certain people may face if they are not careful about their privacy online. If you have not visited the link above, do it.
According to Angela Crow, author of “Managing Datacloud Decisions and “Big Data”: Understanding Privacy Choices in Terms of Surveillant Assemblages”, “It remains unclear how much or what type of access is possible now or in the future.” In order for students to be prepared for the future of technology, and what is already available to use today, educators must start the process. The key is build a digital awareness that will not only help students in the classroom, but one that they can utilize on every digital aspect in their lives.
Tiffany Geiger is studying Elementary Education and Writing Arts at Rowan University. She currently works in a daycare to gain experience working with children. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, arts and crafts, and visiting the beach.
A zine exploring digital practices and culture.