After careful deliberation, the IPC recently decided to launch its own Instagram account as a new way of connecting with Ontario’s children and youth to teach them about privacy risks and how to protect themselves online. Our creative comms team has already started posting quick tips about privacy and access, including new comic characters, infographics, and whiteboard videos that make learning fun and easy.
Now that the IPC is on Instagram, I just had to create my own account so I could observe all the fun activities going on from the sidelines. (Read: FOMO!) Until now, I have resisted all temptation to join any social media site — other than LinkedIn for purely professional purposes. Well, no sooner than I created my new account, our family chat started buzzing on my iPhone …
OMG!! MOM IS ON INSTAGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!
No way! Not possible. How come I didn’t get a follow?
Don’t worry, she didn’t follow me back either … Guess we aren’t cool enough!
The fact that my kids found out I opened a new Instagram account within less than an hour of me doing so, is interesting in and of itself. After all, I opted not to share my contacts. I used the moniker OntarioCommish so surely, I can’t be in their contacts. I have no location tracking on my phone indicating we live together and my kids and I don’t share the same last name. Hmmm, how did that happen? Looks like I’m going to need some of IPC’s privacy tips and pointers too.
IPC’s mandate includes educating the public, media and other stakeholders about their access and privacy rights under Ontario’s laws and informing them about our role and activities. There’s no denying that an increasing volume of information exchanged now takes place over social media. The number of social media users in Canada is currently more than 34 million and is expected to reach 39 million in 2027.
Our Twitter account has been active for a few years now and — so far anyway — has proven to be an effective social media channel for reaching people over the age of 25. But what about younger folks? For them, “the ‘gram” is the place to be, with global internet users aged 16 to 24 preferring Instagram to other social platforms.
In opening an Instagram account, we’re focused on creating a helpful, interactive, and trusted online space. A place where young people can learn about things like protecting their privacy online and how to access their personal records from a government institution, health care provider or children’s aid society.
Apparently, Gen Z prefers visual focused platforms, so we’re delivering eye-catching, bite-sized content that’s easy to digest. Our Hallowe’en themed posts about some of the privacy monsters lurking out there, and privacy tips by Santa’s little helpers are great examples. And our short videos about staying safe online and protecting health privacy also help convey important information in an entertaining way.
In a recent episode of our Info Matters podcast, From high school to university: a young person’s perspective on digital privacy, I spoke with Keith Baybayon, a first-year student at McGill University and former president of the Ontario Student Trustees Association. As a member of the IPC’s Strategic Advisory Council, Keith provides a fresh perspective on how young people use digital technologies today, what they think about privacy, and how we can help children and youth develop the skills they need to survive and thrive as digital citizens.
It was clear throughout my conversation with Keith that one of the keys to empowering young people to protect their personal information online, is by raising their awareness of the risks and how to minimize them through sharing best practices, making informed choices when it comes to privacy settings, and the like. Joining Instagram and reaching out to them on a platform they’re familiar with is one of the ways we’re doing that.
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 made considerable progress in this area. You can read more about our initiatives in the IPC’s 2021 annual report.
More recently, we’ve been preparing to launch our boldest initiative yet — forming a new IPC Youth Advisory Council. By providing diverse youth with a seat at the table, we can learn from them, gain insights into their unique perspectives, and work together to develop practical, relevant solutions to real-world problems among this younger demographic.
If you are a young person between the ages of 15 and 24, or you know someone who would be a good fit for the council, please visit our website for more information. You can also email us at [email protected] if you have questions.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” One of the great challenges of our time is how we, as parents, teachers, and regulators, can help guide young people through the labyrinth of online risks and opportunities so they feel better equipped to participate in the digital world with independence and self-confidence, knowing that they can shape their own future.
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