Leah is a leading expert on digital law and digital life in our K-12 schools, our homes, and our civic organizations that serve kids & teens.

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Leah is a leading expert on digital law and digital life in our K-12 schools, our homes, and our civic organizations that serve kids & teens. She is an associate dean & professor at University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law, a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and author of SHARENTHOOD: Why We Should Think before We Talk about Our Kids Online (MIT Press). WIRED named SHARENTHOOD a “Must-Read” book because it “illuminates children’s digital footprints” and guides teachers, parents, and other trusted adults on how & why to better protect children’s digital privacy. Leah brings compassion, clarity, sound legal judgment, and a sense of humor to unpacking the many cutting-edge, complex questions about youth and the digital world that educators, parents, and other decision-makers are confronting—including protecting digital privacy, the role of kids as influencers or members of influencer families, and how to fight fake news and promote digital literacy. She is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College, where she performed improvisational comedy with IGP.

Leah lives in Concord, NH, with her husband, two young kids, and dog. She is an everyday runner and around-the-clock Earl Grey tea drinker.

Topics

Student digital privacy & pandemic living

Overnight, schools had to move into remote learning mode. Get a handle on how and why to protect student privacy in our “new normal” and get ahead of the curve in exploring opportunities to strengthen digital privacy protections for your learning environment.

Parents as digital learning partners

In our “new normal” of remote learning, parents have become part of the classroom in a whole new way. As school systems make plans for this collaboration to continue, in some form, for a long time, how can educators make parents a productive part of the digital learning team? Unpack common sources of stress around digital learning between parents and educators and make an accessible, values-based plan for not only addressing these problems but identifying opportunities for new digital collaboration between home and school.

Protecting youth digital privacy in civic organizations

Clubs, sports teams, and other organizations that bring kids valuable athletic, recreational, and other activities are embracing digital technologies, especially in pandemic life. But many organizations haven’t yet thought through how to use these technologies (by leadership, staff, volunteers, parents, and kids themselves) in ways that both advance organizational mission and protect kids’ and teens’ privacy. Develop a practical map for taking ownership of your organization’s approach to digital tech to limit your risks and to enhance how you serve kids and teens.

Sci-Fi & Sharenting: Facts or Fictions?

The New Yorker heralds Leah’s book from MIT Press – Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online – for offering “gripping moments” where Leah envisions “scenarios that seem both far-fetched and, when you think more deeply about the direction of technological innovation, a bit inevitable” for how our digital tech choices as teachers, parents, and other trusted adults impact our kids’ privacy and life opportunities. Join Leah for an inclusive and imaginative dialogue about tech innovation and the future of our kids—and of childhood itself. This talk looks at the ways that adults’ everyday tech choices are already impacting our children’s lives, as well as the inevitable (or not?) ways that our choices about the tech that is likely to exist tomorrow will change our kids’ futures.

How to Think about Child Labor Laws When Your Kids are Part of Your Brand & Business.

Your kids may play a big role in the content you create and share, but as your brand and business grows, at what point are your children working for you? And when should child labor laws be taken into consideration? As influencers continue to succeed, they will need guidance to navigate the increasing potential for law enforcement action, as well as legal or regulatory reform of existing laws, which is becoming more likely as the influencer sector grows.

Three takeaway points for this talk:

  • Navigating the fine line between family and business relationships when those relationships are with your own children
  • Understanding how current child labor laws intersect with influencers
  • Best practice tips that influencers should consider

Grandsharenting 

Now that grandparents and their grandkids are in digital mode more than ever before, what do grandparents need to know about protecting their grandkids’ privacy online so they can engage meaningfully and safely?




Unlike accounts either demonizing or defending social media, Plunkett charts an original course in asking adults, and urging law, to embrace youth as a time for experimentation. This book offers tools to empower youth and a nuanced, cogent assessment of the challenges in protecting privacy in the digital age.
– Rachel Rebouché - Associate Dean for Research, Professor of Law / Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Plunkett, a lawyer with experience defending young clients, provides a much-needed perspective on the rise of 'sharenting,' which she defines as the sharing of a child's private information through digital platforms. With an eye for history, a critique of the US legal system, and a penchant for storytelling, in this book she offers parents, caregivers, educators, and citizens important insights on how best to navigate the digital terrain.
– Lynn Schofield Clark - Author of The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age
A fascinating and frightening addition to the literature on the technological reconstruction of childhood and parenting. Plunkett details how taken-for-granted adult data-sharing behaviors, legally sanctioned and cynically encouraged by tech companies, constrain what our children are and can become. She sounds a loud warning—and proposes a significant cultural reorientation. We would be wise to listen!
– Joshua Meyrowitz - Professor Emeritus of Media Studies / University of New Hampshire; author of No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior
In Sharenthood, Leah Plunkett deftly explores the challenges inherent in raising children in the digital age, from the unique perspective of a legal scholar. Rather than fear-mongering about what anonymous bad guys might do to our children, she notes what we, ourselves, as parents already are doing every day—often for no reward greater than 'likes.' The book is a bracing and provocative look at the present and a prescient warning about our potential futures.
– Dorothy Fortenberry - Writer/producer, The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu
Plunkett is describing a set of questions, about data and privacy, that many of us already grapple with. Yet it all seems particularly nefarious in the context of children, for whom a defining condition of life is that they are captive to forces they cannot possibly grasp.... [Sharenthood's] most gripping moments come when she imagines scenarios that seem both far-fetched and, when you think more deeply about the direction of technological innovation, a bit inevitable.
– Hua Hsu - The New Yorker
Illuminating and common sense.... Reveals the alarming ways your family's data can be used and distributed, and advocates for a more thoughtful approach to how we parent your digital-era offspring.
– Mary Elizabeth Williams - Salon
One of 13 Must-Read Books for Fall Leah Plunkett illuminates children's digital footprints: the digital baby monitors, the daycare livestreams, the nurse's office health records, the bus and cafeteria passes recording their travel and consumption patterns―all part of an indelible dossier for anyone who knows how to look for it. Plunkett thinks the offspring surveillance ought to stop and has suggestions for how to kick the sharenting habit. They are worth considering.
– Emma Grey Ellis - Wired
A fascinating and frightening addition to the literature on the technological reconstruction of childhood and parenting. Plunkett details how taken-for-granted adult data-sharing behaviors, legally sanctioned and cynically encouraged by tech companies, constrain what our children are and can become. She sounds a loud warning―and proposes a significant cultural reorientation. We would be wise to listen!
– Joshua Meyrowitz - Professor Emeritus of Media Studies / University of New Hampshire; author of No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

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