“Be careful with your private information” is the number one rule for social media interactions and great advice for general internet use. It’s also very easy to say – so easy, that it has become a mantra that gets repeated without anyone stopping to think what it actually means. If there ever was a broad concept, “private information” is just that.
We at watAgame noticed that kids sometimes are uncertain and get lost when we tell them that it’s not cool to share private information or ask others to tell theirs. They simply don’t know what we are talking about. We decided to do a little experiment.
What is it and why should it be a secret?
We got our own police officer Jack to ask the kids to define private information and to tell why sharing it might be harmful.
Many kids knew exactly what private information is:
“I think it’s like your school’s address, your age and phone number.”
“Snapchat name and Skype account are private information too!”
Some had great tips on how to define it:
“Phone number, your full name, your address – everything you wouldn’t shout to a weird stranger on the street.”
“These things you should only tell to people you’ve met face to face!”
Horrible threats were mentioned – these kids have definitely been watching television:
“If you give your address that person can come over to your house and rob you. Or if you give your Skype password they can delete all your friends and change your password!”
“You can’t give your personal information, because someone can kidnap you and your parents will have to pay up a lot of money to get you back, but those people can still kill you or lock you up in a dark basement.”
Sometimes it’s okay to lie about your private information if you don’t want to share it, but the kids also know what crosses the line:
“Instead of telling your real name come up with one, like Mollie Sapphire Moonlight. (It’s OK if it’s a weird one.)”
“Don’t put in your teacher’s name or address instead of your own.”
Some question the whole threat connected to sharing private information:
“If I say I’m 11, how can ANYONE know who I am based on that? There are so many 11 year-olds. I’m not stupid enough to tell my name or address.”
“I have revealed my name and posted my picture, but I’ve done it after thinking if I’m sure I want to do it.”
And ugh, there are some who do it for the likes:
“Some people give out any information just for more likes. And this is the worst, because it’s like they don’t care for their lives and that’s dangerous.”
Education pays off
We’re happy to see that many kids are aware and show a lot of knowledge on the subject. There’s still a lot to learn – for example, instead of getting kidnapped, a much more likely risk is being bullied – but it’s fair to say that kids have good base knowledge. We’ll let Jack continue his education work, and we hope homes and schools do their part too!