CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — As more children use online platforms for school work and play time, one Penn State professor is analyzing how adults can start conversations with children surrounding online privacy.
“Parenting in general is not about protecting or shielding a child from every single form of risk,” said Dr. Priya Kumar, assistant professor at Penn State University College of Information Sciences and Technology. “Digital technology is a way of life and there’s a lot of opportunity there. It’s unfortunate to focus just on all of the risks.”
Dr. Kumar said helping children learn about privacy through real world experiences is a way to prepare them for the digital world. It’s a “practice-based approach to privacy literacy.”
“A lot of educational materials that exist currently kind of tend to depend very much on a sort of dos and don’ts approach,” said Kumar. “Those rules don’t actually reflect everyday life.”
She said engaging in genuine conversations at a young age can make children more comfortable coming to adults for help in the future.
“What we want to be doing as parents is helping our children understand and learn in age-appropriate ways, learn how to navigate the world around them, so that when they do become adults or they are out there on their own, they have that foundation to draw on,” said Kumar.
How should you start these conversations?
“The best way to start these conversations is really to ask questions, to show interest in what your children are doing online,” said Kumar. “
Kumar said it’s important to remember digital privacy concerns impact everyone.
“Children are not unique in this regard, I mean, we adults also live most of our everyday lives through screens,” said Kumar. “I would encourage parents to not worry so much or not feel so much stress or anxiety that children are using technology because that is a way of life.”