Digital Privacy and Responsibility in Middle School Students

The concept of privacy in students while they establish their personal identify in the digital community is critically important in digital citizenship education. In this post, I am focusing on ISTE standard 7d with my question why is important to help educator, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.  

According to Ribble and Miller (2013), the current gap in technology knowledge and lack of leadership preparation related to digital literacy and citizenship for school environment can cause serious problems. Digital citizenship is a concern for educators, school leader and parents. Educators realized the urgence to prepare our students, especially secondary students for a digital future that is safe, healthy, and effective, and the need to help students to take caution on their personal data and information use. The reason I am focusing on the study for secondary students because they are in a transition stage which owns more control and access to technology compare to elementary school students but have less training, experience, and maturity compare to higher education students. Secondary students, especially middle school students have showed high percentage in online risky behaviors (Martin &Wang, 2018).  

During the study of Middle School Students’ Social Media Use by Martin and Wang (2018), middle school students have not fully established the awareness and capabilities to protect themselves and they also try to keep social information from their parents and teachers. One of the data demonstrated their willingness to accept friend request from unknow people was 40%.  It shows that security education for middle school students is a concern and need to be addressed in digital citizenship education.  

“Avital part of growing up is forming our identity. Identity is often reflected as how you perceive yourself as well as how other perceive you.”(Martin, 2018, p215) Students navigate websites and use different social medias, they post their pictures, their preferences, their location or their personal life to establish their identity. They are not aware that their actions online if not easily anonymous when they are offline, and they need to take responsibility of their online actions in real life. Cyber bullying and online harassment often are the results of irresponsible online behaviors that can lead to depression and even suicide in real life.  

Digital privacy is where the boundaries are when sharing information about oneself and others online. The process of creating log in accounts, usernames and passwords is another way to establish an identity online. Students need to learn how to create strong passwords and protect their private information on their user accounts, such as address, phone number, or financial information. Educators need to consider including concept of identity theft, data theft online scams into curriculums just like how we teach young children not to accept food from strangers or get into stranger’s cars to protect themselves from harm.  

In the ISTE blog, it is recommended that teaching digital responsibility and concept of privacy and digital identity should start early. It is not just for secondary students and it needs to be built into a curriculum with scope and sequence since kindergarten to ensure they are well papered to be safe and take responsibility to create a safe and secure digital environment for others as well.  

School leaders and educators must become aware and begin addressing the need to help students to understand the concept of privacy when they establish identify online to prepare them to be responsible adults in the digital age.  


Martin, F., Wang, C., Petty, T., Wang, W., & Wilkins, P. (2018). Middle School Students’ Social Media Use. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 213-224. Retrieved October 2, 2020, from 

Ribble,M., Northern Miller, T.,, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45 

Zumpano,N. (2019). 5 things students should do to stay safe and secure online. Retrieved from

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