Every year, we have the teachers go through Digital Citizenship courses with their students. Part of the digital citizenship is privacy. I do not think it is a matter of students and teachers not being knowledgeable about privacy, but more of a lack of awareness of the digital surroundings.
Everyone knows not to list a child’s name with their picture. We only use first names or first names and last initials. Parents must give permission for their children to be posted on social media. These are just a few of the steps taken to protect our children. Sometimes, that is just not enough. The students need to know that everything around them is a clue to their identity.
A few years ago, we began making video announcements with the students. They record the videos one week, and they are shown the next Monday. The videos are stored, unlisted, on YouTube. Even though they are unlisted, they can still be shared. A few months ago, we began to look into doing live announcements using Twitter as the carrier. I admit that I have been dragging my feet because I cannot guarantee the privacy of my students. Less than an hour after setting up the new Twitter account, before anything had been posted, we had a follower. My mommy radar went wild.
As I looked around the “studio” (that would be the library), I found multiple identifiers in a matter of seconds. The school name is not very common, so a quick Google search would give our location. They all mention their names when doing the announcements, and they have a website describing their jobs and a tiny bit of personal information–just enough that someone could use to seem familiar to a child.
Am I paranoid? Absolutely! Is it necessary? I think so. Will it keep me from allowing the students to continue their news adventure? No. I will just be ever diligent in doing what I can to keep them safe in a digital world, while teaching them to keep themselves safe, as well. They live in a digital world, and that is not going to change any time soon. They need to learn how to navigate that world while they have caring adults around to guide them.