Resources to Educate Children about Privacy on the Internet

August 27, 2019 - Melanie Coyle, Analyst

Now that my oldest child is reading, and given the multitude of devices connected to the Internet in our home, he has access to the world wide web. This is scary! He can literally be influenced by the entire world.

For now, I am certain that his online interests lie mainly in Pokemon, Minecraft and Rubik’s Cube tutorials. However, I know it won’t be long before he learns that Google will answer all of his burning questions and that Facebook is an excellent place to get the attention of girls. (Ok, maybe not Facebook.  Apparently, it is for old people like me… But whatever the cool social media site will be in a few years.)

Already he is experiencing the wonders of the Internet by connecting with his friends online. I admit I was caught off guard earlier this spring when he exclaimed “Yes! Ryan and his cool older brother are online and can play this game with me”. (Obviously I am paraphrasing. One should never admit one’s best friend’s older brother is cool.) His father had set him up to be able to play with his friends online.

I am sure he has no idea of all the amazing things he can do on the internet. But more importantly, at this age, I know that he has no idea what kind of trouble might be waiting for him there. His education on Internet and social media privacy and security must begin now.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has many tools for parents and teachers to help educate children on these topics such as a Do-it-yourself House Rules for Online Privacy tool. There are also resources available for kids themselves. Resources are tailored to specific age groups.

This week the OPC, in conjunction with our office and other similar offices in other provinces and territories, have launched printable activity sheets aimed at younger kids in grades 1 to 3. They include:

  • A Snakes and Ladder game that highlights some triumphs and pitfalls of privacy on the Internet;
  • A password making game;
  • A Connect the Dots that teaches some online privacy rules; and
  • A word search that also gives tips about online privacy.

These activity sheets are free to download and print and are available here.

To begin his privacy education, I will definitely be reviewing these with my son. And, as an added bonus, they will keep him off his electronics… for a while!

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