Recently one of my daughter’s friends shared a silly (and unflattering) video of her on Snap Chat as she imitated a crazy dance they were both watching on a popular TV talent show. When my daughter told the friend “you better not post that!” the request was ignored. The 10-second video was sent to several people escorted by a fit of laughter.
My daughter, sulking, later came in to talk to me about it.
“So what were the consequences for your friend?” I asked my daughter as she finished the story.
“Nothing. She just shared it. I got mad. She said ‘sorry.’ That was the end of it. We’re good.”
“That was it?”
“Yup. That’s it.”
“Did you tell her how embarrassed you were?”
“Well yeah, but what can I do? She said I was overreacting,” she shrugged. “Everyone does it. It’s no big deal I guess. Everyone will forget about it by tomorrow.”
“Everyone but you,” I said.
And just then it hit me: Not only is our tech-driven culture taking away our children’s privacy little by little, it’s persuading them just as subtly that—being outnumbered and overpowered—they may as well simply hand over their privacy.
But just as the societal ills of drunk driving and drug use reached crisis levels before we taught our kids to “just say no,” and mean it, so too, should be our response to privacy abuses. Teaching kids to “just say no” to the social norms that chip at their personal privacy, is a great first step.
I told my daughter that night: “When the people around us begin to assume they can simply take photos, videos, or collect our personal information online, if we don’t say “no!” we give our privacy away. Have the courage to clearly, and boldly just say ‘no’ and mean it. Just because our house has windows does not mean it’s okay for people to come look inside our home. And, just because you have a Facebook page or a cell phone does not make it okay for people to share your image anyway they choose.”
Teach them to be bold and:
• “Just say no if you don’t want to be in a photo.”
• “Just say no if you don’t want to be tagged on Facebook or Twitter.”
• “Just say no if you don’t want a video of you taken every hour at a birthday party (by a peer or an adult.)”
• “Just say no if you don’t want to accept someone’s friend request.”
• “Just say no if someone asks you a personal question online.”
• “Just say no if an online friend wants to ‘meet up’ in person.”
• “Just say no if someone asks you for your email address or social profile, or screen name. (Even if that person is a cashier!)”
Teach your kids to model respect and privacy online by:
• Inviting a person to be included a photo—not just snapping photos in public places.
• Asking a person’s permission before posting a photo or video online.
• Checking with a person before tagging them on a social network.
• Giving full attribution to photos, videos, artistic works and quotes.
• Setting their personal settings on Facebook to “private” and “approve tagging requests.”
• Saying “thank you” when someone allows them to share his or her photo or video on your page or in your feed.