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IPC’s Back-to-School Lesson Plans: Helping kids learn about online privacy

The digital landscape has become an inseparable part of children and youth's lives, offering boundless opportunities for learning, connecting, and having fun. However, amid this abundance of technology, young people don’t always see the far-reaching implications of their online activities on their privacy, both present and future.

Young people may not always be aware of risks like cybercrime, cyberbullying or even how companies can use ads that attempt to nudge their behaviour. As educators, parents, and regulators, it’s our job to teach children the necessary skills to stay safe online and empower them to navigate their digital environment in an informed manner.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the release of four new classroom-ready lesson plans to help educators teach students in grades two through eight about privacy rights, digital literacy, and online safety, just in time for back-to-school!

Prepared by MediaSmarts, in collaboration with the IPC, these free lesson plans include privacy-protective skills that every student needs to develop.  These include teaching kids how to identify and mitigate risks, make strategic choices to protect their privacy online, show empathy for others’ online reputation and respect others’ privacy rights.

They include:

Each lesson plan is based on the IPC’s Privacy Pursuit! activity booklet, filled with fun activities for learning about privacy. The lesson plans include student handouts you can print or complete as a fillable PDF.

In their general comment on the rights of the child in relation to the digital environment, the United Nations stressed the fundamental role privacy plays in protecting children’s online dignity and safety, while supporting their sense of agency, empowerment and growing autonomy. This universally-recognized statement reminds all of us how important it is to equip children with the problem-solving, critical thinking and digital literacy skills they need to stay safe online. These IPC lesson plans provide an empowering platform for active participation and discussion about why privacy is important and how to protect it in the digital world.

We want to hear from educators about their experiences in using the lesson plans and invite them to share their feedback by completing our short survey. It’s important to know how the lesson plans are being used, what areas worked well with students, and potential topics or areas for future development.

We also engaged the IPC’s Youth Advisory Council to ask for their feedback about how we can best reach out to teachers and young people to spread the word about these new lesson plans and the importance of protecting privacy rights. And we’re putting their great ideas into practice. Keep an eye on our Instagram account for updates, as well as upcoming initiatives for youth, tips about privacy and access, comic characters, and whiteboard videos that make learning fun and easy.

As part of our strategic focus on Children and Youth in a Digital World, we are working to champion the access and privacy rights of Ontario’s children and youth by promoting their digital literacy and the expansion of their digital rights. Over the past two years, we’ve continued to make considerable progress in this area. You can read more about our progress in our 2022 annual report.

Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts, it’s rather the training of the mind to think.” Educators today play an essential role in teaching kids about privacy. These lesson plans are sure to spark active participation, foster lively discussions, and instill a profound understanding of why privacy matters and how to protect it online.

I am very excited about this initiative and immensely grateful to all those who helped make it happen — it’s an important step towards ensuring that children have the knowledge and tools they need to participate safely in the digital world.

Wishing all Ontario kids and teachers a wonderful new school year!

— Patricia

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