If your kids love using apps on Facebook but don’t really want to talk with you about app privacy settings, watching this little three-minute video together might be more doable. In it, Facebook explains how people can control their privacy in apps – what info the app shares and who it’s shared with. Before believing all the scary news reports, see how much control users have when they install an app or anytime thereafter. To check right now what apps you use (it’s easy to forget) and what they’re up to, click on the little down arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your timeline or home page, then on “Privacy Settings.” Once there, in the left-hand column of that page, you’ll see “Apps” in the left-hand column (5th one down). Click on that, and you’ll get to a list of all the apps you’re using. If you click on “Edit” to the right of any one of them, you can change the settings for it or delete it altogether any time you want.
Each app’s a little different. “What an app can do and what information it needs depends on the app’s purpose,” writes my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid at SafeKids.com, quite logically. “If it’s an app that sends out birthday greetings to your friends, for example, it makes sense for it to know who your friends are and their birthdates and, of course to be able to send out a greeting.” And, as Facebook’s help video explains, you can use the settings to regulate what it does or just make it stop. The best way to teach our kids media literacy is to model good media-literacy practices for them: Check out whether the commentators got it right by exploring what they’re talking about first-hand with our kids, if possible, checking out at least two other sources on the subject of those commentaries. We can turn news reports into social media literacy reality checks. This is the new, two-way sort of media literacy that protects data as well as people – critical thinking about what we post, produce and upload as much as what we read, consume and download. It’s certainly not just for kids.