Teaching kids about online privacy while watching the Ellen Show

According to Consumer Reports, “most parents who knew their preteen used Facebook had not discussed online threats with them or “friended” them, while up to a third did nothing to keep up with their children’s Facebook activities.” Most of us know we should talk about sharing online, but faced with eye rolling, dramatic sighs and a subject we may feel we do not know enough about, we often retreat.

We do need to wade into these waters. I have found a great way to reduce the eye rolling is to find small moments. It is rare for online sharing to just pop up, so I often have a short video queued up on the laptop. While they are looking at the screen, I throw in a little privacy discussion.

This week, my kids and I watched a clip from the Ellen Show called, “you posted that on Facebook?”  Ellen looked up audience members’ Facebook pages and showed a few of their public photos. While laughing at this 7 minute video, we talked about online sharing.

“For posting the pictures you post, you are all so shy.”

The first thing my kids noticed was how the audience members looked so scared. Some of them could not remember what they posted on Facebook and all never dreamed it would be presented on TV. Clearly, they were not completely comfortable with their public online image.

My kids often tell me, “well, no one is really going to look at our pages.” Well, these people probably never expected Ellen to visit their page. Once a person posts a photo publicly, they lose control over who will see it and where it’s shown. Before posting a photo or video, kids needs to think – Is this something I really want to share with the entire world? Would I be OK with anyone seeing it?

“She probably hates me right now” 

The other lesson, I snuck in, was choosing your friends wisely. The poor friend included in the last photo. Kids need to respect their friend’s privacy and always ask permission before posting a photo or video.

 It is also important for kids to think about who they accept as friends and followers. When they share a photo, they are relying not only on their own settings but their friend’s privacy settings. Remember, friends protect and respect privacy.

So, I hope this video helps kick off your privacy moment. If you are ready to dive in further, check out some more great videos from the Berkman Center on kids and their digital profiles.

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