Kids Believe they are Protected by Facebook Privacy Settings –They are Wrong!

Kids place too much trust in Facebook privacy settings! Here is an approach to making news stories about Internet sites popular with our children or our students into teachable moments.

A guest Post by Jill Brown of It’sMyLocker.com and GenerationTextOnline.com

You might have heard or read that someone hacked into Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook photo album. His privacy settings limited access to his friends. But, the hacker bypassed the settings, copied his personal pictures, and made them accessible to everyone in the world.

There is a great lesson here to discuss with our children.

First, there is a lesson for parents, educators and other adults. It seems that the part of the brain that enables a person to understand cause and effect is in the brain’s frontal lobe. This part of the brain is not fully developed until an individual reaches the mid-20s!

Now think about this in connection with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook account being hacked.

Teenagers, tweens and children (even most college students) are not capable of predicting the future consequences of posting a risque picture on a Facebook page. Their brains are not developed sufficiently to enable them to use the frontal lobe in this way. They simply cannot do it. They need our help and guidance! Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is an adult who presumably understands what type of pictures are appropriate for posting on Facebook.

The lesson for our children is this: they might have pictures in their Facebook photo albums that could ruin their reputation or prevent them from getting into the college of their dreams. 

I strongly encourage parents to sit with their kids (age 8 to 25) once a week to look at the pictures they have “living” on their Facebook pages. It is important to check both public photos and the ones marked private. (As we have learned from what happened to one of the most successful men (Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook) in the world, it really does not matter if they are posted as public or private.

If you are an educator, you can walk your students of ANY age through this simple lesson. The lesson, by the way, was created by using the Operation Gen Text curriculum guide.

Lesson: The Billboard

Step 1: Have your students read this article about Mark Zuckerberg: “Facebook Security Flaw Allowed Access to Mark Zuckerberg’s Private Photos” http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-security-flaw-allows-access-to-zuckerbergs-private-photos-2011-12?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=BI%20Select%20Recurring%202011-12-06#ixzz1frJQe2wJ

Step 2: Explain to your class that this lesson is NOT to “Tell them what to do” but to give them an example of how to make safe choices on the Internet. Let them know that you realize that you will not be present when they make these types of decisions, so it is important that you give them the tools so they can make the best decisions.

Step 3: Say: “The first thing I want everyone to do is to picture a billboard like the ones you see on the highway. Now, I want you to imagine that there is a billboard right outside the front of this school. Every single student, teacher, principal, parent, college recruiter, and everyone else sees this billboard as they drive by or enter the school. “

Step 4: Say: “Now, I want you to imagine that any picture you post on your Facebook page will automatically be posted on that billboard.”

Step 5: Say: “Let’s think of pictures that it would not be a good idea to put on Facebook (or on the billboard).”  Ask them to give you examples. (You must make the point that some pictures are OK to take or have in a physical photo album, but not the kind of picture that someone could copy and paste and show the world. For example, a picture of you in a bathing suit.)

Step 6: Say: “Let’s think of the types of pictures that would be OK to put on the internet.” Ask them to give examples.

Step 7: Say: “How does that make you feel? Do you think the visual of the billboard will help you make the right choices when uploading your pictures online?

I suggest following up with the students or children involved in this lesson, about once a week.

  • Ask them if they remember the billboard imagery and if they used it when deciding what pictures they would post on Facebook or elsewhere online.
  • Ask them if they saw any pictures on their friends’ pages that they think would be inappropriate on the billboard in front of the school.
  • Give them a homework assignment: to go on Facebook and find a picture one of their friends has posted that they think is inappropriate for the billboard or for Facebook.
  • Ask them to share their discoveries (no names) with the group the next day and explain why it seems inappropriate.
  • Finally, ask them what they plan to do about it.

My experience indicates that this approach will succeed with kids from 8 to 25. I hope you find it helpful.

-- Jill Brown



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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