The need to teach kids privacy self-protection

By Anne Collier

If recent news – about the iPhone, the PlayStation Network, and the privacy breach du jour – says nothing else, it says no digital media user can rely on companies to protect our privacy. No huge surprise, but an important reminder. And in this user-driven media environment, this reality will not change, no matter how many calls there are for more regulation. So, to get them in the mindset as early as possible, we need to start teaching our kids about privacy yesterday – ideally, from the moment they pick up a connected device. We don’t need to teach our kids to be afraid or to expect the worst of media and tech companies; but we do need to teach them to be as alert and thinking as much as possible when they share their movements, photos, and innermost thoughts wherever they play and socialize, using whatever device. We can all start working this into life as just the digital version of self-respect and citizenship.

Gamers too, of course. The data breach involving more than 75 million users of Sony’s PlayStation Network that hit the news this week was among the “Top 5” biggest breaches ever, according to Canada’s CBC News. “More than 70% of PlayStation 3 videogame consoles are connected to the PlayStation Network, which allows users to play online games, surf the web, chat with friends and download games and other content from the PlayStation store.” The stolen data includes names, addresses, birth dates, passwords, screennames, purchase history, and possibly credit card account info, but Sony wasn’t sure about the credit card part and, according to the Irish Times, took almost a week to get a handle on the scope of the breach. And Sony’s gaming community wasn’t alone in being privacy-challenged this week. Microsoft this week “issued a security warning” for members of its gaming community, Xbox Live, who play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, saying they “may receive potential phishing attempts,” USATODAY reported, adding that Modern Warfare 2 is one of the most popular games among Xbox users. Here’s some security advice for gamers from my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid at the Huffington Post. This is the perfect teachable moment for parents and kids to talk about privacy and safety while gaming, so here are our “Tips for Smart Videogaming” to use as talking points.

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