• OWLS

  • Wise words on Privacy

Using Apps

Key Messages

  • Apps are the way our devices work these days - they’re easily available to download for mobile devices, tablets, and computers. They let us choose what we want to do online.
  • You can buy apps or get them for free but there may be hidden costs and risks to downloading apps. (Take a look at this lesson for further information on this http://www.netsafe.org.nz/owls/safety-first/protect-your-money/)
  • Nothing is completely free. Your information is what you’re paying with.
  • It is wise to exercise some discretion when downloading and installing apps.

Illustrating the topic

  • Stories:
  • An online study found that 72 percent of all apps in the market request access to at least one potentially risky permission. For example, 42 percent request access to GPS location data, 31 percent want access to phone number and phone call history, and 26 percent ask for permission to access personal information.

    Gideon has just graduated from University with an IT degree. He has created an app that records how much sunlight you have had in a day to show if you get enough Vitamin D. It also warns you when the sun is too hot, risking sunburn. Gideon is giving away his first app but needs to allow adverts on his app page so he can earn money. He has a privacy policy and does not collect information from people who use his app.

    Aimee downloaded a game app to play on her Dad’s mobile phone. It turned out to be a phony game app and it harvested information from the mobile phone. It got access to her Dad’s passwords, credit card information, location data, and also sent information out to sites where it was used to commit fraud and identity theft.

Discussion Questions

  • What is an app? What devices use them? What apps do students use?
  • Talk about how they decide what apps to get. (References from friends may actually be a safety check).
  • Does a game app really need access to your GPS location data? (Take a look at the lesson plan for "Sharing your location isn't always the best thing to do").
  • Does a music playing app really need permission to access all of your contacts and personal information? Do you want your music choices shared on other accounts? (eg social network sites).
  • What risks have been mentioned in the stories?
  • An app allows the user to customise their online experience. What does this mean?


  • Use a Plus/Minus chart to sort the Benefits and Risks of using apps or use a brainstorming tool.
  • Extend the previous activity by using De Bono’s Thinking Hats to analyse: facts (white), feelings (red), benefits (yellow), problems (black), solutions (green), thinking (blue). Make a poster of all the hats or split the class into groups to use one hat to explore “Using Apps”.
  • Research or use the link “Before You Download that App you need to know about Security and Privacy” to create a brochure or online presentation (refer to Resources) advising people how to be wise using apps.
  • Organise all your thoughts on this topic using the Using Apps - Reflection.