How do elementary school educators think about privacy and security when it comes to technology use in the classroom? What privacy and security lessons do they give to students?

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I worked with a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and Princeton to explore these questions. Below, I summarize our findings and recommendations. I’ll present a paper on this project at the 2019 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI).

What did we do? Schools across the United States have integrated various digital technologies into K-12 classrooms, even though using them poses privacy and security concerns. As…

One reason I value my newspaper subscription is that it reminds me not to take things for granted. Especially when it comes to technology.

In a recent column, the Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler recounted a conversation with alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra. Chopra has been criticized for promoting medical treatments based on pseudoscience, and his views on technology seem to be just as misguided.

“Technology is neutral, number one. Number two, it’s unstoppable,” Chopra told Fowler as they walked through the tech industry’s trade show, CES, earlier this month.

No, and no.

Technology does not just fall from the sky…

Our research suggests that young children understand aspects of privacy online but that parents can help them refine their privacy decision-making skills. Image credit: Pixabay

This blog post summarizes a paper about children and privacy online that will be presented at the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing on November 7th.

Glance into a typical family living room or school classroom and you’ll probably see tablets or netbooks among the toys, books, and other objects of childhood. Children commonly go online to entertain themselves, to communicate with others, and to learn. Since these activities involve disclosing information and managing user accounts, that means children are also managing aspects of privacy and security online.

To understand more about how children conceptualize privacy online…

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The first complete piece of writing I authored was a four-stanza poem about the seasons. I was seven. In middle school, I started a family newsletter, the Kumar News (it lasted two issues) and wrote 150 pages of a novel about a fantasy land called Mystica (then writer’s block struck). In high school, I worked on television production. I couldn’t wait to study journalism in college.

When orientation day finally arrived, about 12 fellow freshmen and I sat in a stuffy computer lab and signed up for our university email addresses. Immediately, our orientation advisor told us to go to

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My receipt printed with an X. My husband’s did not.

We had just returned to the U.S. after a relaxing beach vacation abroad, our delayed honeymoon, and we were waiting at Customs.

We went through the passport express kiosk, where individuals scan their passports and answer a few questions. My receipt printed with an “X,” as it always does. My husband, who is a white man, received a receipt without an X. We were directed to the (much longer) line for X’s.

I was curious about what this X meant, so when it was our turn to go through immigration…

What We Can Learn From The Life of Oliver Sacks

In 1966, Oliver Sacks hit rock bottom. He held a medical degree from the University of Oxford and had completed his residency at UCLA. He had published research papers in scientific journals and was working in a laboratory at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

But, as the renowned author and neurologist wrote in his autobiography, On the Move, “I struggled to give up drugs…my research was going nowhere and I was realizing that it would never get anywhere, that I did not have what it took to be a research scientist.”

It’s hard to imagine…

Image by Markus Spiske/Flickr

When I was 13 or 14, my parents gave me “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey for Christmas. I devoured the book, re-reading it for the next several years. It was the first book in which I highlighted, dog-eared, and wrote notes directly on the pages.

Habit 2 encouraged readers to write a personal mission statement. I loved the idea but never wrote anything of consequence. Now, having accumulated several more years of life experience, I feel more equipped to write that statement.

The sentiment of my mission coalesced largely over the past six years. The…

Only hindsight can reveal that the job ad you answered on a whim would turn out to shape so much of your future.

The American Journalism Review recently announced that it would cease publication after 38 years. AJR stopped producing print issues two years ago and became online only. I worked as an editorial assistant at AJR during my final semester of college, and a year later I conducted research for the magazine’s cover story on the decline of foreign coverage in American media. Little did I know the extent to which these experiences would contribute toward my professional and personal success.

Nearly seven years ago, a call for AJR interns reached my inbox, and I thought, why…

Parents, Children, and Social Media

One evening while perusing Facebook, Christine encountered a profile with a public cover image that depicted her two-year-old son sitting in a pile of leaves. The profile belonged to Christine’s babysitter, and Christine hadn’t seen the picture before. (The names of parents in this article are pseudonyms.)

Initially, Christine felt uncomfortable. She told her husband, and they wondered what to do. Should they send the babysitter a Facebook Friend request? Talk to her directly about the photo?

Ultimately, they did nothing. They figured the babysitter posted the picture because she loved their son, and having a babysitter…

Priya Kumar

I study Internet things: digital rights, privacy, social media use. PhD student @iSchoolUMD. Alum of @rankingrights, @UMSI, @berkmancenter, @MerrillCollege.

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