After spending years teaching digital citizenship and civility in the K-12 world, I’ve now come to the conclusion that we parents and teachers should, in the midst of teaching children, stress that there is never privacy online. Yes, I know that we already teach this — or try to — in most schools and homes, but election 2016, accompanied by the theft and sharing of emails and other connected world materials, is scary. It has proven that everyone can be hurt by what they say online — even when what is said is not intended to generate hurtfulness.
Our confidential comments may differ from what we say in public. When our candid thoughts become widely available — yes, through hacking, but with kids it’s through intentional sharing, gossip, or the unintentional mistakes that kids make — words can often be interpreted negatively. Moreover, at least for the time being, we live in a world where stealing a public figure’s private communications and making them public appears to be OK.
Over the past several days I’ve heard more people say that they will stop using the cloud — a reaction to the stolen pictures, possibly taken from iCloud, of movie stars and celebrities (September 2014).
Hmmm… How about being a bit more realistic?
This is a great teaching moment for 21st Century parents, kids, and anyone who works with children. We need to remind ourselves that, no matter what a website tells us, our security depends on the many steps that each of us takes to protect and reinforce our information — passwords, privacy settings, 2-step verifications. Most of use the cloud, and often we don’t even think about it or take our privacy that seriously until something goes wrong.
This graph from the Poneman Institute’s report, 2012 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy (PDF) depicts the seven-year trends about people’s views about their control over personal information and the importance of privacy.
While people worry a lot about kids and their digital access, the most critical aspect to me — and the most likely to cause an eventual problem for a child — is the degree to which information can be tracked and collected while children work and play in the web.
I know a lot about technology. I’ve taught people from preschool to aging seniors. I write blogs, participate in social media sites, and love my e-mail. I know enough to keep my digital accounts out of danger, until now, that is …
On Thursday early evening, I came home, terribly tired — maybe too tired to work on technology tasks. With a cup of tea, I sat down to look over my blogs and Twitter account where I discovered a funny message, from someone I know and respect. That Tweet reported on a not-so-nice Tweet about me, and I only needed to click on the link to check it out.
Now I have been teaching digital common sense and responsibility for nearly 20 years. I have made presentations to kids, parents, teachers, church members, seniors, and even newly arrived immigrants about taking care, not opening attachments, and not clicking on links. But in this case, I did not even think about it. I clicked, and the naughty link did its work, sending out copies of the message to every one of my followers.
If you use Twitter, watch out for a spam tweet — usually a direct message tweet that tells you about a “crazy personal message.” Do not click on the link that accompanies the message. If you do you may send out the hoax to your Twitter followers. If it goes on for too long before you do anything, it may also send out a message from your account. Oh, and the original message may come from someone you know, like, and trust. Mine did.
Because it’s a scam, do the following things.
Change your Twitter password.
Disconnect from all connected accounts such as Facebook, newspapers, Linked-in, etc. Wait a day or so to reconnect.
Log out all devices.
Restart all devices as needed.
You should be ok. However, keep an eye out on your Twitter account.
It’s almost back-to-school season, I’ve just been asked for my opinion about home network filters, and I’ve answered the way I always do: protective software programs are fine, but limited.
Yes, filters keep a certain amount of inappropriate content away from children, but the problem of access is not solved simply by protecting home computers and networks. Over the course of a day or week a child encounters many other connections to the world wide web — on laptops, smartphones, iPads, computers, in other people’s homes, and maybe even at a parent’s office. Not to mention all of the inappropriate advertising…