On a daily basis I use it for keeping in touch with friends and family via e-mail, skype, and social networks. I communicate with colleagues, students, parents, and my PLN. But that’s just the beginning. I am writing this while I sit at a coffee shop. A coffee shop I would not have known about if it had not been for an article I read on a website about Abu Dhabi. I would not have found this coffee shop without using Google Maps on my iphone. While I drove to the coffee shop I also listened to a podcast offered through an app on that same phone. Once I got to the coffee shop I signed into their wifi and logged on to the COETAIL site where I am taking my masters online as well. I realize that I am so connected to the internet that I might need to take a little vacation…..wait this IS my vacation…..oh dear.
Then I got to thinking about my own privacy online….or lack thereof. I remember shortly after I bought my first purchases online from a Middle Eastern shopping site that a lot of ads started popping up offering me deals on similar items in the area. No matter what other sites I went to I would inevitably see an add asking me if I have taken the time recently to buy those same products I previously purchased. The internet would also make other suggestions to me for related stuff to buy. Then the internet started asking me if I wanted to book a hotel in the place I just bought tickets to visit. Is this internet magic or is it just sneaky? I think the latter. I realize now that site cookies are taking this info and giving it to third parties. How nice of them.
Other sites that require me to make a profile to see their content also offered this super easy option to “sign in with Facebook.” All I had to do was allow them to see my basic information. I didn’t want to spend 5 minutes creating a profile so I didn’t mind, as long as they didn’t post to my wall or approach my friends. I know they aren’t taking anything to terribly personal, but it’s another example of how we would have a very hard time trying to really have a privacy online.
I think that anyone who participates online is never going to be entirely private. There are companies dedicated to finding out information about us. Tracking our likes and dislikes. Like a new kind of Census we are unaware is even happening to us. Sure, I think it’s important to do what I can by setting limits on sites like Facebook and Instagram. But, I am aware that what I do online is not seen by my eyes only. That awareness is what keeps me mindful of what I post. I found this article by The Guardian pretty helpful and informative on the topic. It even gives some suggestions on how to increase online privacy by recommending VPN’s and safe searching options.
I doubt I will calm down with my use of the internet any time soon. I really do love the way it has changed the way the world works. I also feel that as a teacher it will be my job to help teach students how to use it properly. Awareness is key. When using internet in the classroom, teaching students to be informed and cautious users of technology is probably the most valuable lesson we can begin with.