Parent Technology Coffee Morning: The Filter Bubble

We had a small, and very dedicated group of parents with us today, the first Wednesday back after break, thank you! Our session today was focused on safety and privacy, particularly around the use of Facebook. Because we had such a small group of parents today, we started with a very informal conversation. A few of our interesting highlights were:

We know that the privacy settings on Facebook (and many other websites) change regularly, often with very little notice or information. Therefore, we think it’s probably best to consider all information shared in those spaces to be public. Only share what you would want to share in public spaces, because it’s quite possible that either your settings may be changed without your knowledge, or possibly someone could copy and paste (or screenshot) your updates and share them elsewhere.

Knowing that so much of what we share online is or could become public, we talked about the importance of regular, open and honest conversations with children so that they are aware of the different aspects of sharing online. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that they are making informed choices, and conscious decisions about what they’re sharing.

We also talked about the importance of having your own online presence that you manage. Without having your own presence online, it would be very easy for someone else to create a false profile with your name, and to pretend they are you. A good way to keep an eye on this is to regularly log out of all of the services you use, and Google your own name. This is a good strategy to make sure that what others find out about you online is what you want them to find.

When we think about spending time online, we were curious to understand more about how the different services we use are connected. We can see that ads in Facebook and Gmail are specifically tailored to us, and using apps like Ghostery can track who is monitoring what we look at online. This conversation prompted us to watch the following TED Talk by Eli Pariser:

After watching the video, we had a great conversation about how we can actually work towards preventing this kind of filter bubble. Some thoughts we had were:

  • Be more conscious about how we spend our time online.
  • Instead of always making a choices that re-affirm our views, try to find, research or discover things that are challenging.
  • Use tools, like the groups feature on Facebook or the lists feature on Twitter, to compile and organize voices or ideas from different points of view.
  • Remember, every time we click, we are teaching the algorithms what we want to see. We are in control of what we click.

For sure this is an interesting time to grow up! It was great to hear  at the very end of our session, how happy our parents are with the way YIS students are learning with technology. Overall, they feel that students are learning both the positives and negatives of using technology and that they are able to make good choices both in school and at home.

We hope you will join us next month, on Wed, 1 May at 9:15 in the Cafeteria, when we talk about game-based-learning: Wondering what’s next in education? This recent TED talk by Jane McGonigal, “Gaming Can Make a Better World”, has helped propel the idea of game-based-learning or gamification of learning into educational conversations around the world. Watch the talk and see how we’re implementing this kind of learning environment in certain classes here at YIS.