Dangers of giving away online privacy

Derek’s Blog: Students gullible online

Concern about student safety in the online environment continues to
be an issue worldwide. In my previous post I referred to the tension
between the responses of moral fear and digital faith. It appears that
the proliferation of social networking sites and applications is a key
driver of this.

This morning I’ve been reading report from the US National School Boards Association (pdf download)
titled “Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online
Social and Educational Networking” that reports ninety-six percent of
U.S. students ages 9 to 17 who have internet access use
social-networking technology to connect with their peers, and one of
their most common topics of discussion is education. Not surprising in
a way, since the report also finds that nearly all of the school
districts surveyed (96%) say that at least some of their teachers
assign homework that requires Internet use to complete.

Meanwhile, an article on the Wall Street Journal
reports on a study found users of the Facebook social-networking site
are too gullible in giving up personal information, which could make
them the targets of identity theft. The researchers fabricated a
Facebook profile and asked 200 Facebook users at random to give up
personal information. Out of the 200 friend requests, Sophos received
82 responses, with 72% of those respondents divulging one or more
e-mail address; 84% listing their full date of birth 87% providing
details about education or work; 78% listing their current address or
location; 23% giving their phone number; and 26% providing their
instant messaging screen name.

All of which suggests to me that our efforts must go into an
educating our students (and our teachers!) about what is appropriate
behaviour online – rather than adopting the fear perspective and
attempting to isolate them from it.