Student Privacy – Is It Fair to Share?

In a world where the need to check social media has become as much of habit as looking at your watch, do you ever wonder if we are sharing TOO much information? Reading many “hot-head” status updates and viewing countless pictures from others that pop on my Facebook often leave me shaking my head and cause me to  question whether we are TOO quick to post TOO often? With too many “TOO’s”  to keep track of, it all comes down to the issue of oversharing online. What are the repercussions of oversharing and who does it impact?

Unfortunately, I believe oversharing can lead to big problems with privacy, especially when the one who is doing the oversharing is sharing information or photo’s of others without their consent. 7772620936_28a0cbdfa0It seems like common sense to ask permission, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case with ease of posting, and the lure of receiving instant gratification from others through a like or re-tweet.  However  what doesn’t sit right with me is the fact the person doing the oversharing is often not the only one dealing with the consequences. For example, parents that overshare information, including embarrassing stories and pictures, of their children often think
little about the permanency of the post and Photo Credit: verbeeldingskr8 via Compfight cc   how their choices may come back to haunt                                                                                              them in the future. Justine Stephanson makes a very interesting point on her most recent blog post, stating “With many parents participating in different forms of social media their children are no longer anonymous at birth. Some children are digitally born before their actual birthday as many parents post ultra sound pictures or make a pregnancy announcement.” Parents are creating a digital footprint of their children before they are even born! The importance of being aware of what one posts is becoming more important than ever before.

What happens if the one oversharing is a teacher, sharing student content or photos. Is it fair to share?  I assume teachers mean well and have good intentions but this does happen often in the form of classroom Twitter account,  Facebook pages and blogs. As Kelsey, Shannon and Danielle explained during Tuesday’s debate, Teachers may not even realize we are exposing the students we are meant to protect. Teachers need to make sure they have parent permission, which may need to go beyond the typical media release form.

Juan Enriquez poses the question during his TED Talk, “What happens if Facebook, Google, Twitter, Linked In, cell phones, GPS, travel adviser – all of the things you deal with everyday turn out to be electronic tattoos? And what if they provide as much information a26002074343_d81806c5e6 (2)bout who and what you are, as much as any tattoo ever would?” I believe what we do online does share a story about who we are, and most important leaves a digital footprint – our own digital tattoo.

A tattoo becomes a part of you and it’s aim is to represent a part of who you are. I wonder if my digital footprint is an accurate reflection of my authentic self? The problem is, our students (including myself) are Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc
still learning about digital citizenship and preparing to use online communities in positive ways. They are going to make mistakes.  However, the main take away from Tuesday’s debate was the importance of educating kids in today’s digital age who may not be as aware while quickly posting pictures they may later regret. In the article Teachers -Take Care of Your Digital Footprint, Meredith Stewart makes the point that “If you aren’t controlling who you are online, some else is or will.”As I was leaving high school, social media was becoming much more popular and I can remember feeling uncomfortable when someone posted a picture for everyone to see without even knowing a picture was being taken. Not that what I was doing was bad (at least let’s hope not), but I certainly would not like to see every picture from my teenage years resurface for anyone and everyone, including future employers, to see years later.  I didn’t feel fair and it didn’t feel right. I wonder if some students ever see themselves on a class blog, or school twitter account and feel the same way. After all, according the the article Does Sharing Photos of Your Child on Facebook Put Them at Risk states “According to the online recruitment site Career Builder, around a fifth of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and close to 59% say they would be influenced by a candidate’s online presence.” Being aware of photo’s that might be problematic to another’s future should be at the forefront of one’s mind before posting, but unfortunately not everyone thinks about it until it’s perhaps too late.

I try to follow the golden rule: If you wouldn’t print it on the front page of a newspaper or feel comfortable sharing the post with your boss – don’t do it. My students are eager to share the work they are proud of, and pictures of our learning with parents online. I find it motivates my younger students to do their best work, and they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when sharing this quality work with an audience. Technology has opened a window into our classrooms for parents to feel more “in the know” than ever before. My students love being able to show their parents what they have been working on by checking out our weekly class blog update, just as parents enjoy seeing their kids in action and taking a more active role in asking questions about a new project or extending what we are learning at school. It allows me to be more transparent and proactive in keeping parents in the loop.

I really enjoyed learning more about how Kathy Cassidy uses technology to enhance learning and teach students to use technology safely and effectively. I particularly enjoyed her point about kids who are connected have a different worldview. This video demonstrates the importance of modeling the use of social media and inspires me to work towards using online portfolios. Although I love using a class blog, I have never really thought about the dangers of posting pictures in such depth  until this class and it does make me consider switching to a more private form of sharing – such as portfolios that only parents have access to. It definitely gives me something to think about when preparing for next year.

If we are going to share, we must have clear and upfront conversations with parents, collect permission and  stress the importance of being “share aware”. First, educating ourselves as teachers about the footprint track we leave behind while using technology and then passing this onto to our students.

Avoid regret and become “share aware!”




One thought on “Student Privacy – Is It Fair to Share?

  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post Tayler and thank you for the shout. I think educators and parents need to remember balance when they sharing online especially photos of students and their children. It is nice to share pictures of great work, achievements, or celebrations, but everyone needs to remember not to overshare! You raised an excellent point when you wrote- “…what doesn’t sit right with me is the fact the person doing the oversharing is often not the only one dealing with the consequences. For example, parents that overshare information, including embarrassing stories and pictures, of their children often think little about the permanency of the post.” I believe so many times people share or post online in the heat of the moment and do not think about how this post or image could affect the child in the future. Every image and posts connects back to the child and it gets added into their permanent digital identity. I really liked the image you included in your post about sharing on social media. I think some people maybe need to put this image as a screen saver to help remind them about sharing online. People need to be mindful of their actions and become “share aware!” Wonderful job Tayler!


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