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February 6, 2008 / Ben Chun

Youth Privacy

As I started watching Growing Up Online, I was happily surprised to see my friend danah boyd (yes, she doesn’t capitalize) in the documentary. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since she’s an expert. Still, it’s cool to see someone you know talking about issues that matter to a national audience. I decided to show another segment of the documentary today, one that danah isn’t actually in, and connect the topic (privacy) to a post she made on her blog a year and a half ago.

Here’s the writing prompt I put in our Moodle discussion today:

One of the experts in the Frontline documentary says, in a blog post about the erosion of youth privacy, “Unless we figure out how to give youth privacy in their personal lives, they are not going to expect privacy in their public lives.”

Do you agree with her statement? Given security cameras at school, people watching your computer screens, etc. do you feel you have privacy from your parents and teachers? What experiences have you had that help you understand what you want to keep private and what you want to share with the world?

In the comments on my last post, Ken brought up the idea that it can be difficult to have students bring together thoughts and composition. Hopefully by pushing on them to use their experiences as a way of talking about a larger issue, I can help them bridge that gap.



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  1. Annie Evans / Feb 6 2008 12:38 pm

    Thanks for pointing out this video… I’m a young teacher and thought I understood the online world. After watching this, I’m aware of how much things have changed!

    I’d like to show the video to my classes, but I’m concerned that the content is a bit mature. Did you send home a note to parents before showing it?

    Also, I wanted to highlight a great video 10 minute video on cyber-bullying. Its another great resource for discussing online behavior.

  2. Ben Chun / Feb 6 2008 12:42 pm

    I’m picking and choosing the sections I show to avoid some of the more potentially objectionable content. (So far, I’ve only shown sections 1 and 5.) I did not send home a note, but that might be a smart thing to do.

  3. patrickD / Feb 6 2008 7:09 pm

    Not quite sure I get the distinction btwn. “thoughts” and “composition” that Ken is mentioning. I’d lean toward calling the student response to the prompt an example of writing to think. Answering a question with a keyboard isn’t that much different, esp. in the context of the FL video, than answering a question in conversation. It’s not giving a prepared speech. Enough of those “thinking at the keyboard” exercises could produce enough pre-writing to provide the content for a “composed” essay, a “try” at clarifying a position, an opinion, a hypothesis. Hmm – see why I want you in that BAWP summer invitational? Just for the sake of this comment conversation in a room with peers!

  4. Ben Chun / Feb 6 2008 8:23 pm

    I’m definitely on thin ice here when it comes to the instructional vocabulary (and, hey, conceptual vocabulary) for teaching writing. I’m going to chalk that up to only being a math teacher before this year.

    Your suggestion that students could develop their ideas from “online discussions” into more formal writing is a great one. Thank you. I’m going to think more about where this could go. My one attempt at a paper last semester was pretty much a flop. I wonder what I could do to set it up better this time.


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