Private and Personal (10 minutes)
EXPLAIN to students that some kinds of information are generally safe to share on the Internet and some are not. However, the information that’s considered safe should not be shared one on one with people they don’t already know offline.
DEFINE the Key Vocabulary terms personal information and private information. Emphasize that personal information is usually safe to share online. Private information is usually unsafe to share online (students should get permission from a parent or guardian).
SHARE the following examples of information that is safe or unsafe to share:
SAFE – Personal Information
- Your favorite food
- Your opinion (though it should be done respectfully)
- First name
UNSAFE – Private Information
- Mother’s maiden name
- Social Security number
- Your date of birth
- Parents’ credit card number
- Phone number
ASK: Why would someone want to steal someone else’s identity on the Internet?
- To steal money
- To do something bad or mean
- To hide their real identity
DEFINE Key Vocabulary term identity theft.
EXPLAIN that an identity thief uses private information to pretend to be the person whose identity he or she has stolen. Once the thief has taken someone’s identity, he or she can use that person’s name to get a driver’s license or buy things, even if the person whose identity they stole isn’t old enough to do these things! It’s often not until much later that people realize that their identity has been stolen. Identity thieves may also apply for
credit cards in other people’s names and run up big bills that they don’t pay off. Let students know that identity thieves often target children and teens because they have a clean credit history and their parents are unlikely to be aware that someone is taking on their child’s identity.
EMPHASIZE the difference between private information (which can be used to steal your identity) and personal information (which cannot be used to steal your identity). Invite students to answer the following questions (write their answers on the board):
ASK: What kinds of private information could an identity thief use to find out and steal your identity?
Examples include: first and last name, postal address, email address, phone numbers, passwords, calling card numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name.
ASK: What kinds of personal information could you share about yourself without showing your identity?
Examples include: your age, gender, how many brothers and sisters you have, your favorite band, your favorite food, what pets you have, the name of your pet, your opinion about an important issue.
EXPLAIN to students that on the Internet people you interact with could be your friends next door or strangers who live on the other side of the world. Because it’s hard to know the intentions of people who you’ve never met before, it is best to remain cautious when sharing your information. You wouldn’t give strangers your private information in the real world, and you need to be just as careful when you’re online.
REMIND students how important it is each time they share information online to stop and think: “Am I giving out information that I should keep private?” Point out that it can sometimes be safe to give out some private information. For example, a website might ask for your birth date or email address. But students should always ask their parent or guardian before giving out private information.
DISTRIBUTE the Protect Yourself Student Handout and have students complete the activity. Review the correct answers (listed below):
- Personal Information: Your age, gender, how many brothers and sisters you have, your favorite band, your favorite food, the name of your pet.
- Private Information: Full name, email address, your date of birth, phone numbers, credit card numbers, calling card numbers, mother’s maiden name, Social Security number.