Common Sense, Digital Bytes: Online Tracking Unit

Making students aware of the number companies that track ALL online activity and the concept of filter bubbles aka personalized content.

Photo of Kali Baird
3 16

Written by

This Digital Byte, Online Tracking, from Common Sense informs students about the reality that there are a variety of, and numerous companies and entities that track everything that you do online. After this lesson, some people installed the ghostery app and/or chrome extension which shows in real time, the sites that latch on to you when you visit a page.

This unit also brings up the concept of "filter bubbles" which shines a light on how personalizing content and the algorithms of the internet end up filtering many aspects of online interactions from advertising content to what pops doing a regular search. In several discussions, this phenomenon was highlighted as having a potentially powerful impact of keeping and/or changing people's opinions in many things, especially politics.

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

When we did this with our junior and senior classes, they were surprised! For the most part, students seem to take lack of privacy with a shrug of, "It's inevitable and when did we really ever have it?" Seeing and having the trackers named made it more real and sent home how they are the targets for a variety of companies wanting to make money. The filter bubbles added to this clarity as it highlighted the subtle manipulation of online interactions.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Kim

Hi Kali,

First of all, thanks for participating in this collaboration between the Teachers Guild and ISTE. We really appreciate your contributions!

We’re in the last week of the build phase of the challenge on digital citizenship so it’s time to fine tune your idea before final voting begins next week.

Here are some things to consider as you continue to build on your idea:
- is your idea clear and will it inspire action from other teachers?
- would it be easy for a teacher to incorporate your idea about digital citizenship in their classroom?
- does your idea include some component of research and are there shareable resources?
- is your idea student-centered and does it promote agency?


View all comments