When it comes to protecting your privacy on the internet, mobiles and other devices, you need to consider what information you reveal about yourself and who has access to it.

The same is true for your son or daughter as they might inadvertently give away too much personal information.

What do I need to know about privacy? 

Young people whose digital and offline worlds have merged might be less worried about keeping things private than you are, so it’s important that you explain some of the potential privacy pitfalls, such as:

  • Personal details and photos on their social networking profile might fall into the wrong hands, possibly resulting in things like cyberbullying or online grooming
  • Some spammers harvest email addresses from the internet so your child might receive spam or phishing emails if they register their real email address on public websites
  • They might think that they’re anonymous when they’re online or on their mobile and behave differently to the way they would in the real world (eg bullying other people or illegally downloading music) – in fact, they could be traced by their unique IP address or mobile number

Did you know?
According to Ofcom, the majority of 12-15 year olds in the UK would be happy to post photos of themselves out with their friends (58%) and post information about what they’re doing (51%)


Many internet, mobile, social networking and games providers acknowledge that privacy is a concern for their users, especially children and teenagers. They offer built-in privacy features, such as the ability to choose who can see your social networking profile or to block emails from certain people.

What action can I take? 

Check the privacy policy of your child’s internet, mobile, social networking and games providers so that you understand what kind of information they collect and what they use it for – for example, if your son or daughter uses Facebook, we recommend you read this blog that explains why they should review and update their privacy controls

Encourage your child to only share their personal information with people or companies they know

Check that they understand how other people can tag photos of them on sites like Facebook

Suggest that they use a nickname (not their real name) on websites, chat rooms and other online forums

Help them to set up strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers and symbols) and explain why they shouldn’t share them with anyone

Make sure they use a PIN lock on their mobile

Discuss the fact that not everyone on the internet is who they say they are

Explain how information they use to register for websites, competitions, downloads and other internet and mobile services could be used by the companies in question (eg to send marketing emails)

If you don’t want companies to track you or your child online through cookies, disable them in your browser – although, bear in mind that some social networking sites set cookies when someone registers their date of birth so that they know whether the user is old enough to access the website

Advise your child to get permission from friends and family before taking photos or videos of them and to check that they’re happy for the images to be published – not everyone wants to be famous

Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your child’s computer and make the most of built-in tools like pop-up blockers and spam filters

Read our articles about cyberbullying, identity theft, location services and online grooming

Privacy video 

Where can I go for more information and support?