When will we start to educate our children how to handle Social Media and Privacy?

After over a year of heated discussion and media coverage about all the problems with Social Media, I can’t really find a lot of stuff on how governments plan to “train and inform” the next generation of Internet users (Most countries have still a public education system).

We know that there is no formula or technology (currently) to prevent what’s happening on social media platforms, that privacy is and will be an important factor in modern life, and regulations will (AT BEST) always be a decade behind and made by people who don’t understand the impact of their regulations (let alone the negative influence of lobbying money on the very same regulations).

But if that’s all so important (and if you read the press it’s a BIG thing) where are the “education” programs to show our children the danger and impact of social media and the importance of privacy?
You can’t leave that in the hand of parents alone, who more often than not, don’t have a clue how to deal with all that stuff.

And where is the media standing? It’s definitely not enough to cry out loud about every scandal, but stay quiet about how to prevent it or how user can protect them self. Is the media really interested in informing? The current most successful business model for media is advertising. But this model will become harder to keep up, the more users protect their privacy and data (“Ad-blocker, anti tracking browser, are cool, just not on our site”)

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With the current administration in the US and especially the current Sec of Education it seems extraordinarily unlikely to me that this is a priority. Schools in the US for the most part teach to the test, rely on standardized tests for education markers and avoid anything outside of the box.
This type of education on privacy and data integrity is super important and needs to start very early.
Pretty cool topic of discussion I think.


But, at the end of the day, it is up to the parents, in the first place, to teach their kids about this sort of thing. I live in a country, where the government does do a lot for its citizens, in the way of regulations. But at the end of the day, parents can’t buck all their responsibilities over to the schools and the government, they have to take responsibility for their own lives and for those of their children.

For example, the parents are the number one factor, when it comes to behaviour, in a child’s education. They spend more time with their parents in their formative years than they do at pre-school or with friends. Therefore they learn a lot about what is acceptable and not from their parents. If the parents lead by bad example, the kids will learn that as well and the school will have a devil’s own job of unlearning everything the child has picked up.

My wife’s goddaughter has been brought up watching videos on an iPad at meal times to keep her quiet. This has had such an effect on her, that she won’t eat unless the iPad is there and showing a video! What was a convinience to keep the child quiet and eating when it was very young has turned into bad behaviour that now has to be undone. That isn’t the responsibility of the education system, that is something that needs to be sorted out at home, before the child gets to school.

The same for social media, if a child grows up with their parents posting a photo of themselves or their kids every 5 minutes, the child will learn that this is normal, acceptable behaviour. Again, the education system would have to spend more time than a “social media studies” course could dedicate to the subject to “unlearn” everything the parents have taught them, that is wrong.

Yes, a class to cover social media, its many pitfalls and its responsible use could be very important, but the most important factor is the adults around the children, before they even get to school, let alone what the parents and other adults do around them, that contradicts what they are learning in school. The kids will just learn to ignore what they are learning in school, because, obviously, it has nothing to do with the real world!

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parents are the number one factor, when it comes to behaviour, in a child’s education.
Totally agree with everything you said about behavior, acceptance, and how important it is for a child to have “good” role models around.

“You can’t expect that a blind man teach you the meaning of color” [Some great Mind]
It’s irrational to expect that a generation of social media / gossip addicted adults teach their kids how to deal with it. a) they don’t care b) they don’t realize what is going on
You argue that if kid’s don’t get it from home, they are lost calls.
I respectfully disagree.
School might not change their social behavior (and even that isn’t fully true) but at least can inform kids about the implications that social media / media disinformation / data tracking and privacy can have on their future life.
Some might ignore it, the same way as they ignore having safer sex.
But some will listen. And if their parents would be up to the task (that includes our generation as well) than we wouldn’t be in this f.up situation.

We can’t just sit there, rage about every data packet that Facebook sells, and hope that some magic happens and a clever Silicon Valley startup will come up with THE solution, or that regulating (self- and ordered) will make anything better.
I can accept the argument that school programs tend to fail big time (for a lot of different reasons, that’s obviously the case in many us school districts). I also accept the argument that without the teaching of “acceptable social” that the social media problems won’t go away.
But social behavior has nothing to do with knowing how data and news (influence) will be used against us.
We have school programs that teach children crossing a street and carefully watch the cars.
Yet we don’t want someone to tell them how posting private / medical information can have a negative impact on their life, when their parents simply don’t have that knowledge or god forbid have to work two or more jobs and are just to exhausted to sit down and discuss these things?

Beside all that, my “outbreak”, was more about the ongoing hypocrisy. All that crazy hype in the media,
regulatory gremium’s and their consultants looking for all the guilt at Facebook, twitter, you-name-it.com while at the same time no one talks about how to fix it or at least keep our children informed.

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I work as an IT admin in a K-8 school district in the US so I have some first hand experience with this. The problem with expecting schools to teach this sort of curriculum is that the educators themselves do not understand it. We regularly have staff members come to us with malware, adware, spyware, etc. because they lack even simple computer literacy skills (we have had educators not understand how to check their email on their computers via gmail). Technology is advancing way faster than many educators in the US can keep up with, especially ones that have been in education for a long time and are well into their sixties. As an IT department, we have to balance pushing forward in what is possible with making sure everything is usable by the technology illiterate. Additionally, in many states (ours being one) there is no specific certification needed to become a technology teacher. This poses a problem when hiring someone for this role because the administrators involved in the hiring process know very little about technology. How are they supposed to know when someone has knowledge in areas like this?
While it could be possible to hire people with experience like this under the right circumstances, there is always the problem of budgets. Our district comprises of 4 building, approximately 1300 students, and approximately 250 staff members, but there are only 2 of us in the IT department. We support one-to-one device programs in 5 grades, 2:1 device to student ratios in the rest of the grades, staff computers, the network, all of the online educational systems, mandated state reporting, and basically anything else that the administration thinks is “techy”. We are severely understaffed for what we are trying to accomplish, but there is no money in the district budget to hire someone else. This is not a problem that is solely at this district either, all districts work on very tight budgets since they are funded with tax-payer money.
The only way to get a program like this into schools is going to be through government mandating it as part of the school curriculum (similar to crossing the street or safe sex or fire safety). I do not foresee something like that happening until there is a change at the government level where more technical people are making the decisions.


I don’t work in school systems but my wife is an educator and from what I hear from her I agree with all of this. I think this is a parenting issue not an issue for schools to address.


I am so grateful for your input, tieguy. I went back and forth between schools and the parent’s responsibility. I fall under it takes both. I was persuaded by your argument and fear it will take a mandate to implement a sufficent successfull protocol, My problem is I don’t see the present Education department in the US knowledgeable and apparently cognitive of this specific problem. That is why I believe tech savvy parents need to alert our education system and impress on them the proper perspective that this is near epidemic proportions.


Excellent Points.

What would happen if there is free for all online program, via WWW & Videonars?
Would the department of education (or whoever makes the decision) allow it?

Well, then the future is doomed, isn’t it? :wink:

Thank you Roland. I agree that there is no hope for this Department of Education to make the changes needed. I still can’t decide whose responsibility it should truly be. I do not have children so it is hard for me to see it from a parent’s point of view, so all that I am able to offer is what I have witnessed in schools.


As much as I’m thankful for your insights, they also scare the hell out of me.

21st century, the media is full of stories how Quantum Computer calculate the beginning of all live, how Robots will take our jobs and A.I. is taking over the world, yet the people who teach our kids can’t even open their e-mail :wink:


i think it’s a partnership that has to happen between the parents and knowledgeable educators. Some parents don’t care. Some adults, non parents, don’t care. I’m of the mindset of controlling what I can actually control when it comes to teaching my children. Hopefully, the educators are enhancing what I share, but I don’t stress it if they don’t. I’d rather my children understand how to count back change (just in case cash becomes popular again) :slight_smile:


I am pretty strict with my 12 year old when it comes to what he can do online,a nd what games he plays. However, when his mom and I agree on something, she will backslide and give into him when he goes back to her house (he spends a week with me and a week with her).

So, he gets his way at his mother’s home, unfortunately. So, I can only do so much…


Maybe this conversation will be totally different in 15 years or so. I agree with a lot of the points above in that most parents and most educators don’t have the knowledge base required to fully inform this generation on proper technology use. Maybe when these kids are adults things will be different?


Saying that x-sector of the community is not able to teach the youth because they them selves are in the dark, shows the problem is not about educating the kids.

At the point you can’t teach your children something you yourself also need to know, you must first work on yourself, or you will no different to the average manager that hopes the training of those below them is correct, but has no idea when it is not so lets duff knowledge continue (eg. password advice).

Privacy and security need to be common and regular topics of conversation with all the public, not just the ones in the Gov and the children.
However people much prefer to talk about politics or TV shows.

The Gov them selves need to be educated in the thing you expect them to deal with.
They are not the right people for making decisions on IT topics until they have a clue what they are talking about.

Many people who are educators do not have the knowledge needed and neither do their IT departments (look at the amount of schools, colleges and universities suffering with malware each week).
A friend of mine has just quit his job in the IT dept of the local Uni due to the shoddy way it is mismanaged by idiots who don’t understand what is needed, only what they want to happen because some other fool pitched them a golden-bullet solution for all their IT needs.

Privacy and security needs to be topics in TV and films, it needs to be woven into every day life so we are all forced to deal with it, not hope someone else can mop up the mess.


I quit my IT job just yesterday due to incompetence that continually set me up for failure in dangerous and unnecessary scenarios.

I’m unemployed! Help!


Privacy and security need to be common and regular topics of conversation with all the public, not just the ones in the Gov and the children.
However people much prefer to talk about politics or TV shows.


Privacy and security needs to be topics in TV and films, it needs to be woven into every day life so we are all forced to deal with it, not hope someone else can mop up the mess.

Couldn’t have said it better!

When we DON’T start the spiral will never end. Maybe a more detailed explained awareness would be a good start, like you said in TV, Movies, Kasperle Theaters …

The industries won’t give up grabbing data, nor will social media go away. It will change, like it has from gopher to CompuServe over IRC to the gazillion of instant messengers that existed long before WhatsUp, an FBM.

Maybe it also needs a free “program” to inform and teach parents how to teach their kids. (Knowledge is key). The Distribution is no longer a problem. Cost is (kinda, but not really because you always can find sponsors) so it’s just a matter of good will!?

I wonder if Mr. Laporte is right, and Apple use Privacy as a big selling point because they couldn’t get their own Advertising business going. If so there are a lot of “big” companies that could easily jump onto this Motto and stand up as free supplier of such (a) program(s). Password or VPN companies come to mind…

That isn’t what I said. I am all for some form of social media education in schools. My point was, that the kids grow up with their parents doing disasterous things in social media and that is the accepted norm for them, then they get in the school and suddenly somebody is telling them that everything they have learnt over their entire life is wrong? They have to undo a lot of bad habits, before they can actually teach what is right.

That is why parents and prospective parents have to learn now what is good and bad behaviour, so that they are protecting themselves (and their childrens’) reputations online. If the parents have posted every moment of their lives and of their childrens’ lives online, the child has already learnt that this is the normal and accepted way of doing things; unlearning a lifetime if habits in a couple of hours a month at school is going to be hard work for the pupils and the teachers.

The problem is, who would make them? Are they biased towards too anti-social media and tracking or too pro social media and tracking? If it is from an independent group, fine, but if it is financed by Google, Facebook & Co. is it going to be at all credible?

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I totally agree. It must come from both sides, otherwise it will not work.

If the parents don’t care, the kids have already learnt not to care when they get to school.

It is the same as parents teaching their kids the difference between right and wrong, about not bullying etc. You don’t get a set of the laws-of-the-land dumped in front of you, when you start school. They expect that the parents have done their part of the social contract and have brought their children up to understand what laws and what limits there are to what they can do - to the extent that they can understand this, you can’t really teach a 4 year old that rape and murder are wrong, but you can teach them that hurting somebody is wrong and as they grow older this is refined with new concepts like rape and murder, as they can understand them.

The same has to go for social media. I think the parents need to be educated first, before the schools can tackle this with pupils, otherwise it is a lose-lose situation.

I was at a Xing meet-up this week (Xing is a German language platform that is similar to LinkedIn), the local area has regular meetings. It is a general networking event held in a similar way to speed dating, you sit with 4 people at a table for 20 minutes, introduce yourselfs and chat about your work etc. then move on to another table and it goes on like that throughout the evening.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to just briefly introduce myself and to put the most part of my alloted time into talking about data privacy, social media and tracking and IoT and what people can do to protect themselves. A lot of people thanked me and several were very shocked about what I was saying - especially the tracking and security aspects.