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Preteens’ concepts and development of privacy, and the relationship to decisions and actions undertaken in online social environments and with digital devices.

A concern for privacy, the development of this, and how it becomes interpreted in offline and complex online environments has potential implications on young people’s wellbeing and safety. Media often bring to attention more negative aspects of young people’s privacy in relation to their online pursuits, which raises questions about perceived risks to one’s privacy and actual risks encountered online and any subsequent implications. This study looks at preteens’ broad concepts and development of privacy, and any relationship(s) these may have on their use of digital technologies and decisions and actions in online social contexts. A review of literature related to preteens’ involvement in online social networks and issues of privacy presents a growing body of information, however, a scarcity of literature related to preteens’ concern for privacy, and the development of privacy concern, suggests this study offers new insights in this particular area. Students (N=60) aged between 11 and under 13 years from three provincial New Zealand schools participated in this qualitative study, and key data were gathered through a survey. Preteens indicated they valued privacy and specified its importance across dimensions of self. Furthermore, a desire for autonomy and control in managing aspects of privacy in their offline and online worlds was evident. However, concerns were raised regarding preteens’ perceived capabilities and their actual competencies and knowledge of the technical, social, and ethical complexities presented online and in the use of devices. Also evident were inconsistencies in the types of support needed to care for the safety and wellbeing of young people. This suggests young people continue to need regular and robust support from agencies they themselves identified as important, and included caregivers, schools, and peers. Opportunities to further develop caregivers’ skills and knowledge is recommended, so they may better understand the crucial role they have in supporting the safety and wellbeing of their child in their exploration of complex digital environments. Their role is essential in positively contributing to the development of a concern for privacy. Recommendations are made, for schools, educators, and education policy makers in their role in this development. These include sustained teaching and learning opportunities across all learning levels in building related skills and competencies. Sourcing perspectives from preteens themselves as the experts of their ideas, experiences and knowledge, is integral to understanding how they navigate privacy issues when living lives both offline and online.
Type of thesis
Webster, A. (2016). Preteens’ concepts and development of privacy, and the relationship to decisions and actions undertaken in online social environments and with digital devices. (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10059
University of Waikato
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