Children use the internet for so many different things these days. They play games, watch shows and videos, visit websites, listen to music, use apps, engage in social networks, chat with family and friends, and even do schoolwork online. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, kids’ use of the internet has grown even further —and making sure they understand the privacy risks of information technologies has never been more important.
That’s why, today, my office is launching a fun and exciting new resource called Privacy Pursuit! Games and Activities for Kids. It’s one small step in advancing the IPC’s mission to promote digital literacy among young people as part of our strategic priority focused on Children and Youth in a Digital World.
Fred Rogers, the much-loved creator of the preschool TV program, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Indeed, children learn through play. This new activity booklet is designed to help kids learn more about online privacy through games like word searches, crossword puzzles, cryptograms, and word matches, among other fun activities. Through these exercises, kids will pick up some easy-to-understand tips that will help them watch out for scams, protect their privacy, and stay safe online. Some thought-provoking questions will also guide kids through a process of self-discovery by reflecting on what privacy means to them and how to respect the privacy of others through caring and empathy.
The activities in this booklet can be done by children on their own or with the help of friends, siblings, parents, guardians, and teachers. I encourage all parents, educators, and children’s groups to share and download this new activity booklet to help kids start developing good privacy reflexes from a young age. But please note, this activity book comes with an age-appropriate warning against possible side effects. *** Adults who open this book may immediately feel an irresistible urge and temptation to kick back, have fun, dive into the games, and do the activities themselves. But please remember, let the kids answer the questions!!***
All kidding aside, talking to children about privacy from a young age is an important and serious matter. I think back to my recent conversation with international privacy expert Daniel Solove in a recent episode of the Info Matters podcast, Teaching kids about privacy. I remember him so eloquently stating that unless we teach kids why privacy matters as a fundamental value that we should cherish and care about, they will not grow up with the skills they need to protect it.
Going online can have many benefits for our children, but it also comes with some privacy risks. It’s essential we equip our younger generation with the 21st century skills they need to enjoy online activities safely and help support their growth and development as good digital citizens.
On a last, and more personal note: although my own children are now of university age, I sure wish I had a resource like this when they were younger to help teach them about privacy in a “funner,” less boring way, than the daily barrage of warnings I would dole out to them as the “privacy expert mom.”
Make tonight game night, and download your free copy of Privacy Pursuit!
And most importantly, have fun!
This post is also available in: French