As someone with an incredibly searchable name, I have always be hyper-aware of my privacy settings on my social media accounts and websites. It is not surprise that when you search Mattea Juengel all of my websites appear. Fortunately, I grew up at an interesting moment in time - where the social nature of the Internet was hitting its stride as I entered college. Social media was a new tool and many of my peers and I were very cautious and made sure we knew what we were getting into. Since Facebook was only open to college students, privacy settings were built into the social media platform we engaged in. However, when Facebook went public we all knew it was a game changer. It was time to take down any embarrassing photos, change settings, and clean up all of the things you didn't want your Aunt Nancy to see. We were so incredibly aware that everyone could now see everything if we didn't manage our content and settings. We had a common understanding that the Internet is forever.
It seems that this generation, however, is growing up in very different times. Many don't understand how to change privacy settings and those who do often don't bother. As a teacher, my immediate reaction is concern for student development and well being. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your every thought and mistake recorded permanently for the world to see. This concern is wonderfully captured by a quote in an NPR interview conducted with Google Executives about privacy in the new digital age:
"From birth till your death now, going forward, your online profile will be shaped more and more by online events, what people say about you, and it will be very difficult for you to control that. And so the reality is that a child growing up today will find more and more of the things said about them and the things they do accumulate over time. What we're seeing is, in one generation we're going from a very small number of people having access to information, to almost everyone having access to the entire world's information. That will change almost everything"
What will this next generation do? How will they overcome this potential obstacle as they enter the already large challenge called adulthood? I've heard so many stories where bad social media posts have ruined someone's life. For example, the podcast episode called Silence and Respect from Reply All is ALL about how a girl's life was ruined from one post on Facebook.
Certainly, this problem will only continue to grow as young people continue to engage in social media without using privacy settings. Interestingly, the executives at Google had the following response:
"We believe that these problems can be solved, and one of the great things about our society is that you can write these predictions out, and people will attack them and they will solve them."
What do you think? Will this issue ever be solved? Please feel free to leave a comment and disc
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.