Social Cooling is a phenomena that has manifested itself in recent times and is based on the premise that as Big Tech becomes more intrusive in crafting our individual profiles, the more people are backing away from indulging in the more 'social' aspects of social media.

In fact, the surprising corollary here is that this small but significant change in behaviour may help the children of the covid generation to live  more open and interactive lives with less stereotyping and data manipulation to erode to inhibit their true callings and potential.

The origins, causes and effects are fully detailed on the following website, the impacts and the mitigation that 'cooling' may provide are still unproven.

Social Cooling - big data’s unintended side effect
Thousands of hidden scores influence your chance to get a job, a loan, insurance or even a date. Social Cooling describes how this increases pressure to conform, and asks how this will change society.

So how exactly does this impact on kids, the little humans that are entrusted to the care of us, their parents, guardians and/or mentors, and whose in hands their guidance and wellbeing rests.

A concerned parent explains...

"The pandemic has pushed many of us to spend more time at home. For those of us also with kids we're recognizing that they still need contact with friends and then, in all likelihood, homeschooling.

My kids were never into social media, but that's largely due to me being one of those tinfoil hat dads. I made it clear from the beginning that they can have contact with their friends and even video chat, as long as they use responsible software. That means no Facebook, no Messenger, no WhatsApp, no Zoom and the like.

If you want to be in contact with your friends, and they are not tech-savvy enough to install and operate better software then they can at least install Telegram or Signal. As long as they don’t get new friends..that worked out well. My son is using Signal for most of the friends and Jitsi-Meet when he has video chats with more than one person.

Then schooling started and they decided to communicate over Facebook and Messenger!

How great an example is that? So I explained to the teacher that "that's fine with other kids, but not with mine", if you want to contact me then please use email and SMS. There is still some horrifying software involved including Zoom and the like, though, during school hours. Physical Exercise recommended using TikTok but since the teacher is listening to the person who pays them (private school) we then used Jitsi Meet for most and Nextcloud for the things where we won't use the services they recommend.

Crazily enough they also use Google and Messenger for collecting personal information from other parents…

I can’t speak for everyone out there but, of course, can try to give schools the advice they need to be less of a privacy invasion institution, however, if you can (and have kids) try to keep them off Facebook, Messenger, Zoom and unsafe social media in general.

Most of all, even if your kids don’t use social media, just make sure other kids or the school doesn't upload your kids photographs on there.

Kids now live a lot on gadgets and that's mostly our (the parents/guardians) fault for allowing that, but it doesn't mean we need to just give them to them and let them use them the way everyone else does.

When you have kids and parents over for parties, it's the same thing, say "of course you can take pictures, but I would appreciate it if you would not share them on social media". It's your kids privacy as well as your own, but do yourself a favor and get that message out at the outset and avoid the blowback when you need to confront it after the fact!

Share pictures via Signal, Element, Threema and the like (privacy focussed service providers) with your family members. The rest of the world doesn’t need to know. Remember that sharing pictures is supposed to require consent, so you are well within your rights to say "but please not of my kid!"."

Have a look at the following websites as this will help illustrate the issues that you and your kids may now be facing...

What is mathwashing?
Are algorithms as neutral as we often believe? Learn more about Mathwashing, explained in one simple page.
How normal am I?
In this test face detection algorithms will determine how normal you are. 100% privacy friendly.
Cloaking Company - Seduce the algorithms!
Create social media posts that algorithms love and improve your chances in life.

Essentially, whilst kids crave social contact and it is so important for their development, allowing and providing that is problematic in a lockdown environment. A reliance on 'screens' can lead to isolation and all the attendant issues that brings.

Conversely, less time online, and less intrusive time i.e. face to face, interactive schooling etc. provides for an educational opportunity for those with the time and commitment to truly re-engage with their kids and less chance of data capture for profiling.

Good privacy practices should be taught along with basic civics, it is, after all, a human right and those don't hang around if ignored or neglected. Carrying them forward could well lead your kids to a more open, brighter and more interesting life!

Finally, can I suggest you spend some time in the near future with the Privacy Cookbook, forthcoming chapters will be dedicated to homeschooling and to kids online.

Social Cooling is an issue, just as Global Warming (as a consequence of climate change) is. Ignoring it won't make it go away and the impact will be on our children!

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