Today is Data Privacy Day, a lead-in to National Privacy Month. This year, we celebrate Data Privacy Month from February 1-28, 2021. The celebration of Data Privacy Day began across the U.S. and Canada in January of 2008 as a way to unify with data safety celebration efforts taking place all around Europe and was later extended to include the entire month of February.
Here, we explore the essential tenets of Data Privacy Day and National Privacy Month and discuss why you, as a parent or teacher, should care about this important event each year. Let’s take a closer look at National Privacy Month and which concepts it puts front and center for parents, guardians, and teachers to focus on as they raise and teach children in the 21st century.
#PrivacyAware and Staying Safe Online
Using the campaign's hashtag, #PrivacyAware, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) endeavors to boost awareness of online safety for children and people of all ages who may deal with cyberbullying. The campaign also strives to offer a friendly reminder not to share intimate details of your life, such as your full name, address, phone number, or credit card information. Finally, the NCSA reminds us not to give out other details that could allow criminals to steal identities, personal information, or financial data that could be used to cause harm to unwitting parties online.
Along with the #PrivacyAware hashtag, the NCSA also focuses on the tagline, "Own Your Privacy," which is its way of reminding folks of all ages that they must learn to be the stewards of their personal and private data. Although there is often no way around entering specific confidential details online to get the things we want, like access to certain apps and making a purchase, keeping this personal data close to the vest doesn't have to be hard. Yes, we sometimes have to enter such information into our computers and phones, but we must first understand when and where it is safe to engage in these activities.
Looking Out for Our Kids
The deeper we get into the topic of online privacy, the more we come to understand that people of all ages—including the youngest students and littlest children in our care—all have some level of responsibility to protect their own privacy and to care about that of their peers. Data Privacy Month is a great way to introduce these concepts in the home and classroom. And with online learning now as commonplace as traditional classroom learning, it's more important than ever before that students of every age understand the boundaries of personal privacy.
Just as we teach our children not to accept candy from strangers on a street corner, we must now also teach them not to accept "goodies," discuss personal matters, or give away personal information to strangers on the Internet. Parents and teachers can help children understand that online, strangers can more easily pretend to be friends and can encourage children to ask them if it’s okay to interact with new people. And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what National Privacy Month strives to clarify and define for kids and families living in—and depending on—a constantly changing online landscape.
Knowing Our Kids’ Apps and Tools
There’s much more to teaching self-defense online than just telling kids to be careful when interacting with new people online and reporting bad actors and bullies who may be bothering them. Though these are certainly important things to do, parents and teachers should also use this month to educate themselves and their children about screening the apps and tools that their children use.
Common Sense Media
In today's fast-moving tech-based world, new apps and games for kids are always coming down the pike, while those that are already available are constantly changing, upgrading, and offering updates. To stay ahead of the curve and learn which of these new games, apps, downloads, and other software are actually safe for your child to use on his or her smartphone, tablet, computer, or other devices, simply visit Common Sense Media.
Here, you’ll find up-to-date reviews, safety ratings, and a list under each app that states which age group it is appropriate for. Common Sense Media tells you which uploads are best for group and family play and even gives you a complete list of kid-friendly websites that you can trust are safe for your entire family—and all the devices in your home or classroom.
Another excellent tool to help parents and teachers keep kids safe online is iKeepSafe. With a mission to provide a "safe digital landscape for children, schools, and families by supporting the protection of student privacy, while advancing learning in a digital culture," iKeepSafe is a non-profit focused on helping kids and their guardians use the internet safely while deeply protecting their privacy.
iKeepSafe offers a host of resources for kids, parents, and teachers, including:
Digital Citizenship: Fun and engaging ways for kids of all ages to stay active and alert as they surf "Healthy Content Choices" and learn to be "Internet Awesome" in partnership with Google.
Privacy and Security: Here, you’ll find parent guides for social media engagement, as well as guides on the safe and healthy use of all manner of technology for kids, parents, and the whole family unit.
Training for educators: In this section, iKeepSafe offers teachers resources for teaching themselves—and later their students—all about data privacy. iKeepSafe even offers entire online privacy and cybersecurity education curriculums for K–12 students.
Student Privacy Pledge
The Student Privacy Pledge, brought to you by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), offers a method for safeguarding the privacy of students of all ages, especially where personal data collection and its use are concerned.
Companies and school service providers are invited and encouraged to take the pledge as a sign to teachers, parents, and their children that they take students' personal data privacy seriously. By simply visiting their website, you can determine whether the online entities that you and your children use have taken the pledge, and if they have not, you can encourage them to do so, as this will help to keep the internet even safer for students just like your kids everywhere.
Actions You Can Take
Not every household is the same, and it’s going to be up to you, as a parent, to decide the best approach to take. But every question your child has for you about online safety should all contain the same core answer: to keep you safe.
National Privacy Month is important because it challenges parents to reach out to their kids—and even their kids’ friends—about online safety and its crucial importance. While you want to remind your children and students about the positive value the internet and technology bring to their lives, you also want them to become more mindful of the digital tools and apps they are using and who they are interacting with online.
Some activities you can engage in to celebrate National Privacy Month include:
- Test your knowledge: Take a pop quiz about online safety to test your knowledge of online safety, then take the time to learn about any answers you missed.
- Roleplay: Pretend to be an online bully, and teach your children what to say, when to engage, and when to get the help of an adult.
- Teen and tween allies: Teach older kids or teens the warning signs of bullying and how to look out for their younger siblings and peers.
- Create a family scrapbook: Teach your children how to journal online, how to post new entries every day, how to add fun things like photos and drawings to it for added fun, and how to protect it with a password or other online security features.
- Visit Common Sense Media with your children: Explore some of the apps and tools deemed safe and appropriate for children. Talk to them about why some may be okay for one sibling and not another.
- Review the digital tools and apps your child’s school is using: See if they are certified by iKeepSafe or have signed the Student Privacy Pledge.
GoGuardian offers an entire suite of products and services to help keep your children and students safe online. From our GoGuardian Admin™ web filter to help protect students from harmful or inappropriate online content to GoGuardian Beacon®, which supports schools’ student safety programs, our suite is designed to help keep students safe online on school-managed devices.
We have a shared goal for students to be safer during their online education. As we steer through the remaining months of this pandemic, stay tuned for additional new ways to keep your young learners safe online. Until then, visit our blog for more ideas on lesson planning, at-home and after-school activities, and fun things to do in the classroom—whether that’s online or on campus.