Social Media, Digital Citizenship, Critical Thinking

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We all know that social media platforms hold large databases of our personal information. Even when we think we have deleted a post…it still exists with the companies. Even though we don’t know what will happen with this data in the future, we need to engage in real critical inquiry about the ramifications for the future, of what is shared now. What will become of student data in the future, and how is it being used or sold now? How can we help our students to think critically about how they use Social Media Platforms? How can we as teachers think critically about it?

Despite the fact that our students appear to be absolute whizzes at navigating the technical aspects of our computers and devices, we still have no clear road map of the future and how the things we share online will affect us. Remember that nothing we post online will ever go away. However, new ways of ‘using’ this information will always evolve. Critical thinking, reflection, and creativity is absolutely essential to begin to consider options that no one has ever had answers to. 

Part of our Digital Citizenship curriculum should entail reviewing more in-depth and confusing Privacy and Security options on Facebook, and helping students to understand their implications for the future.

There are quite a few settings that, if not managed properly, will expose private information about you, especially for advertisers to make money.

Some Questions to ask your students, and to keep in mind when students are on Social Media:

  • Do you really know who is able to see your photos?
  • Do you understand that each digital picture shares information of exactly where the pic was taken, UNLESS you turn off location data in your settings? (This should be old news, but is amazing how many people still do not know this)
  • Did you know that social media platforms often earn money off of you? You get the services for free for the privilege of giving away your personal information.
  • Did you know that by default, all of your Facebook posts are public?
  • Did you know that what you post can end up on content aggregators such as Graph Search?
  • Did you know that by default, your friends are allowed to share your profile information with app & gaming publishers on apps like Facebook?
  • Did you know that whatever you ‘like’ is used to customize ads for you, and for others who have similar profiles to you?
  • Did you know that your name and images are shown in ads to your ‘friends’ on Facebook?
  • Did you know that by default, Facebook automatically shares your profile information with other websites you visit?
  • Did you know that by default, your profile, basic information, and photo are always Public and indexed on Google?
  • Do you know how to opt out of any of these settings?

When students and teachers apply critical thinking skills to decisions these questions, we can take steps to improving our Digital Citizenship Curriculum, and the Digital Footprints of our students.

What is our responsibility today toward our students, when we do not even know what tomorrow will look like?

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. So useful.We had a Prinicipal oneMR Tim McCallum.Is he related?.I will be using your advice with Year 7 .Cheers Belinda @The best place in the school.


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