Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pokémon Go and Digital Privacy

Have you been on Facebook lately? My newsfeed is buzzing with so many images of this:
That is Pokémon Go. A free augmented reality (AR) game made by Niantic. This game allows you to join a team and start hunting Pokémon in your own neighborhood! I've already seen kids running around in the 100 degree sun of Texas trying to "catch 'em all!" At the school I teach at, Pokémon has been making a comeback in it's popularity (it was a huge thing when I was like 12!). But now, EVERYONE is playing! That image above--not mine, but my husbands. :)

I thought about downloading it. But there was a small piece of me that wanted to sit back and watch and see what would happen. In less than a week it's become the most popular download in the App store, but it's also raise questions about privacy. I saw on the news a few days ago that NBC News discussed it's concerns with what information the app was collecting and sharing (it's a free app that so many kids are downloading--hello, alert!). Niantic quickly updated their policy so that information would not be shared. 

The safety in the "real world" is beginning to be a concern too. Check out this post from the Texas Department of Transportation:

Really? Oh, that cracks me up that they have to say that. And then what about scenarios where teens have been arrested for armed robbery by luring victims to them, or a teen finding a floating dead body while searching for water Pokémon?

I'm not against the game at all. I'm a technology adopter, and often try things out as soon as they come out. But when things were blowing up on Facebook and on the news about how "scary" the app was, I started thinking about the role digital citizenship plays (and how ironic, I just started a course for my Master's on digital citizenship!). 

Let's be real: technology is NOT a fad. It's here to stay. That means we (educators, students, parents, all of us) have to learn how to navigate the digital world. And really, is there a difference between the digital and non-digital world anymore? I'm not too sure, which makes it very important for us to consider digital citizenship.

Pokémon Go gets me to think about digital etiquette and safety in our growing personal lives. These are elements that Mike Ribble addresses in his Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. He also further simplifies the elements into three categories that focuses on the use of technology by the individual and the user’s responsibility toward others:
Respect: Etiquette, Access, Law- how do digital citizens respect themselves and others?Educate Yourself/Connect with Others: Literacy, Communication, Commerce- how do digital citizens educate themselves and connect to others to learn and share with.Protect Yourself/Project Others: Rights and Responsibility, Safety (Security), Health and Welfare- how do digital citizens protect themselves and others?

I think we can move forward with Pokémon Go, but the conversation and understanding of digital citizenship must take place more in schools with a proactive approach to better prepare our students and communities with protecting themselves and treating each other with respect in our blended technology lives.

Check out the resources I'll be curating on digital citizenship on Pinterest! You can also see these link via my Educational technology tab on the top of this blog.

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