Posted by: Clarinette | May 25, 2011

A parent/author/tech pundit’s view on how to teach kids privacy

My answer to a post by Anne Collier – NetFamily
Anne reacts to the UK TEDx conference about privacy in a networked world of Cory Doctorow says

“We want our kids to fight isolation with networks,” in a world that he says is training us to forgo privacy “in service to a business model” that capitalizes on our social lives. But “we don’t want kids to stop social networking online,” he adds.

By blocking social media in schools and monitoring our kids at home, we’ve been falling down on the job – our job of educating them about how to protect their own privacy in an increasingly networked world. Blocking and monitoring has taught them to develop workarounds, not good privacy practices.

As you know, I have been using the nickname clarinette online. For some time, it might have created a filter between my real identity and my online existence. Ironically, it’s a privacy event that has surely given up my real identity, Once you have a public life, it becomes quickly hard to keep the protection, Still I maintain the nickname. My kids are online and I have asked them not to reveal their full name.
Now, on the anonymity online, few observations:

1 – A major obstacle, it is against Facebook’s terms of use.
2- You can always take all measures, others can easily brake the protection, revealing your real identity, tagging you on pictures, giving out your school’s name, and all sorts of private information about you and this is even more problematic with younger users. Keeping safe is a collective risponsibilty.
3- de-anonymisation tools are in constant evolution. Sometimes, anonymity becomes a false illusion. (Paul Ohm has done great research on that subject).
4- Yes, parents and educators need to teach youngsters how to keep safe and the rules of net citizenship. They need to start by learning these rules themselves; A generation gap.
5- Should schools allow access to social networks? Not so sure. The liability issue is not negligible. The age limit exists for the less than 13 years old.
6 – Should we reject all monitoring and blocking? Not sure either.
It’s a question of case by case adjustment.
My own child loves watching NCSI. She does it in her laptop. Yes, she brings her laptop in her bedroom. I was one to teach no computer in bedroom. I don’t have only one child. They all have homework necessitating internet access. I can assure you, it is not always easy to have all kids in the same room doing homework on laptops. the website she access pops up ugly porn pages. I don’t have anything against learning about sex, just that what these pages show is women being used as object and I don’t like my girls starting their sexual education with these images. Yes, I use parental controls, restricting access to certain sites.

I have therefore few objections to what Corry Doctorow had said. I have no one solution to offer.
I guess mostly because internet is still at his infancy age. We need to learn more, to make mistakes to eventually learn the right net-citizenship.

For sure, privacy is a big component of online presence and no, it’s not dead, we can’t get over it. Privacy has to be tamed to protect the multiple facets or our personality. The right to Privacy should protect our free speech against the chilling effect of censorship. What is crucial for youngsters is to preserve their life evolution online. This is true for what they post themselves online, their friends about them, their teachers about them, their parents and grand parents about them etc…..

And no, Mr Eric Schmidt, the solution is not to simply opt for new identity at the age of 21, this is not a realistic option, we all know that.



  1. […] A post of mine in response to Anne Collier and Cory Doctorow: ‘A parent/author/tech pundit’s view on how to teach kids privacy‘ […]

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