Dignity—it’s not a word often associated with social media and online interaction. However, as part of a new education program from Seton Hall Law School’s Institute for Privacy Protection, communication, community, and dignity are key themes of the curriculum. Overall, the goal is to educate students and parents about privacy and technology overuse. But they try not to shame the students and parents, said Gaia Bernstein, law professor and director, Institute for Privacy Protection at the Seton Hall University School of Law, and Najarian Peters, assistant professor, Institute for Privacy Protection at Seton Hall Law School. During the recent edWebinar, “Educating Students and Parents About Privacy and Technology Overuse,” they explained it’s counterproductive to become another authority figure telling students what not to do. Instead, by encouraging students to share their stories and having them explain how technology impacts their lives, the program gives students the agency to take control over their technology use.
The program, which is taught by Seton Hall law students, targets students in fifth and sixth grade, typically the age when they get their first cell phone. It’s a time when parents feel like they are losing control of their kids, yet the kids still have the capability to learn good technology habits.
Since students are getting phones at younger and younger ages, they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand the ramifications of their actions and need parental guidance. Thus, the program has both a student curriculum and parent talk. Parents need to learn what privacy really means in the digital world and how their tech usage affects their children. The program focuses on collaboration and helping students and parents discuss good technology habits together.
Within the student curriculum, there are four hour-long modules:
- Introduction to Privacy
- Reputational Harm and Digital Footprint
- Ads and Content Choice
- Online-Offline Balance
For each module, the lessons focus on teaching students how the tech works and getting them to talk about how technology affects them. With ads and content choice, for instance, the students learn how their search terms are tracked and how that influences which ads appear on websites. Then, the program leaders ask the students what they think and what actions they could take.