How to Teach Kids About Intellectual Property and Copyright
I began writing about social media netiquette and ethics for blog readers and writers, but the more I saw kids (elementary through high school) using apps on their smartphones and iPads, and online on sites that I use, I realized that the conversation needed to expand. Like, yesterday. Curious, I began asking what they considered "online rules."
Image by Alexandra Asher Sears
At school, they learn smart password choices and what information they should or shouldn’t provide. That’s important. Yet none of them understood what I as talking about when I asked if they’d learned what content they’re allowed to upload, download or share.
There's a missing link in online education - both at school and at home - how to respect intellectual property (IP).
I’m not a parent yet, but amongst my most-savvy friends in social media, like Jessica Gottlieb and Jenny on the Spot, many wait until their kids are/were 13 to sign up for Facebook. I found it interesting that those most aware and realistic about what happens online shared this regardless of varied parenting styles.
Amongst various reasons, many share this fundamental belief: there are rules online. The Facebook TOS require you to be 13. We respect the rules.
We need the internet to respect us and vice versa.
Teaching kids to respect IP isn’t a lecture, it’s a dialogue, an ongoing and open one. A study released in February, by the London School of Economics’ EU Kids Online, shows that when parents are involved and aware of their kids online use, rather than placing strict boundaries upon it, they can “reduce children’s exposure to online risks without reducing online opportunities, and they also reduce young children’s (9-12 years) reports of being upset when they encounter online risks.” (via Insafe)
If Emily Posted is about ethics, not legalese. It’s about education, not litigation. And with that mindset we need to start educating kids.
I'm developing a curriculum in correlation with LINKwithlove.org and hope to begin bringing it into classrooms later this year. It's a broad subject to tackle, but you can begin with the basics, tailoring this info to age-appropriate conversation.
What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
Intellectual property online includes the words we read, the images we see, the videos we watch, the music we listen to. Most of it is made available to us for free. But free doesn’t make it ours.
Why does it matter?
If IP isn’t respected, people can suffer. Explain to kids that it can mean loss of income for an artist whose work is distributed and printed without permission. That is can be hurtful when someone copies a photo, even if they don’t know the person, and posts it making fun of them.
What does © mean?
-Explain that when IP is created, the person who makes it automatically has the right to decide how others can copy it. That is their right and © is a reminder of that (although the © isn’t required).
-Sharing someone’s IP online in a public forum is making a copy of it. We have to be sure we have permission to make that copy.
Why does it matter?
-You can explain the possible financial and legal ramifications, but the most important thing to stress is respect. The person who creates something has the right to decide where their work is shown. That is the most important part of copyright. Choosing WHERE things are copied and how.
-Make sure kids know that they have the same rights. If they take a photo or write a story, it belongs to them. They can choose where it is shared.
-Remind them that placing their IP in certain social networks they might lose the ability to keep up with where copies of their pictures go and how they’re used.
What can happen if we share things that aren’t ours?
-Tell them that sharing images that aren't theirs can be serious, but sometimes we make mistakes and we share things we don't realize we don't have the right to. We all make mistakes. What's important is that we do something about them.
-YouTube made this cartoon for tweens/teens to understand what they can and can’t share on the site (via GOOD Magazine)