Thursday, February 14, 2013

Expectations of Privacy as a teen

The vast majority of students I teach don't have cell phones, which is to be expected in a K-6 school.  Today though, I was at the dentist and saw something that I thought was a little odd, and somewhat disquieting.

When I was sitting in the waiting room the only other people present were a mother and her two teenaged daughters, one being between 13-14 and the older 15-16 years old.  They were chatting about something when I sat down, homework that had to be done, and an upcoming dance.  The older girl was called in to the office for her work, and left her purse and other objects sitting in the chair between her mother and her sister.  Within moments of the girl going beyond the doors her mother casually popped open her purse and pulled out her cell phone and prepared to start looking through it.

The younger sister let out a startled, "MOM!" and immediately told her mother to stop.  Her mother said she was just looking at it for a moment, and then asked for help unlocking it.  The youngest daughter replied that she wasn't helping her and politely, and firmly, asked her mother for the phone.  She was quite insistent persistent, and within a minute or two she had the phone from her mother and placed in her own purse.

I had never even considered the idea that some of these students might have issues of privacy like that.  As far as I know I had never had anything like this happen to me when I was that young, but when I was that young there was no digital footprint or tracks to leave.  Everything was over the phone, and unless someone was listening in to your phone conversation there was nothing to see.  For these kids, text messages, facebook, twitter, instagram, emails, all leave a trail that almost impossible to hide from it.

I don't know what the educational implications of this are, I just hadn't really considered it before.

Me at the Dentist

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