What do kids think of privacy and online safety?

What do you think a class of 5th graders would answer if you asked them if they should be allowed to have Facebook accounts? Do you think most of them would want to be on social media? Think again, most don’t believe they should.

Surprised? So was I. Recently, a class of 5th graders wrote persuasive essays on whether kids as young as 10 years old should have Facebook accounts. I was fortunate enough to be invited to their class to talk with them about their thoughts on online safety and privacy. Receiving student feedback is challenging and they can be brutally honest. But if we make a conscious effort to listen to students and their ideas and concerns we can gain great insight into what our talks about student privacy should be about. The biggest takeaway from the visit for me was that students care about their information and being safe online. They want adults to know that at the end of the day the focus should be on students and how we can protect their information. Whether it is with appropriate safeguards for online safety or protecting their privacy in schools with the educational software they use. Students want teachers and prospective schools to know about them as learners but they want to have control of the information they think is important for teachers (and schools) to know about them.

Brenda Leong, Fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum, and I sat down to talk about my class visit. Having a conversation with students highlighted the need to remember that our debates on student data privacy are about students and how it affects them.  It certainly brought the conversation back into focus.

You can watch our conversation here: