Margaret S. Crocco, Avner Segall, Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Alexandra Stamm, Rebecca Jacobsen | The Journal of Social Studies Research
This study examines high school students’ responses to a public policy discussion on the topic of Internet privacy. Specifically, students discussed the question of whether search engines and social media sites should be permitted to monitor, track, and share users’ personal data or whether such practices violate personal privacy. We observed discussions of the topic in four high school classrooms in 2015–2016, prior to the presidential election in 2016. We first explain why the topic failed to work as a controversial public issue with high schoolers. We then explain their responses to the issue. We found (1) students displayed a surprising trust in Facebook and Google; (2) students framed the issue of Internet Privacy as a conflict in values and a set of trade-offs; and (3) students tended to put more weight on personal responsibility than implications for democracy in their assessment of the (acknowledged) erosion of privacy as a result of social media and Internet search engines. We conclude with implications for social studies education and teacher education.