Managing personal information
Advice for Parents & Carers
Get advice to help your child understand what personal information is and why it’s important to keep safe especially if they are interacting with people they may not know in real life.
Although young people love to share their lives online, it’s important to help them make good decisions about what they share and with who.
Sharing personal information that can make it easy for someone to find out where they live or go to school can put them at risk in the real world. It could also put them at risk of identity theft or even online grooming if they overshare with someone that may have bad intentions.
From our research, we’ve found that children with additional needs are more likely to exposed to contact risks which include online grooming so it’s important to equip them to keep their personal information safe to have a more positive time online.
Make sure they know what is considered personal information. (See ‘What is personal information – advice for young people to talk them through this‘ )
You can use social stories to help them understand what happens if someone they only know online uses their personal information in a way that could put them at risk of harm and steps can take to deal with it.
It’s important to emphasise that sharing is not a bad thing and discuss things that can share safely. Also, to consider who they share with. Sharing with people they know in real life is far better than those that they have never met in real life as it’s easier for them to work out if they are real friends. You can also steer towards this page ‘Are they really ‘strangers‘?’ to help them understand how to separate real friends from those who may not be friends at all.
Review Privacy settings
If they already have a social media account, you could do a review of their privacy settings on each of the apps they use to make sure they are only sharing with people they want to.
Remove personal information from public features on accounts
It’s also a good idea to work out what is private and public on each of the platforms they use. It might be the name they use, their profile picture, or other personal information they have entered on their account. Make sure that they do not have their school name, address, or other public information in any of the features that they can’t make private.
Set accounts to private
For children just starting out on social media, we would strongly advise you to make their account private to limit who can see what they share. Some platforms do this automatically when a child signs up for an account but with others, you will have to manually do this to keep them safe.
Agree on ground rules
If your child wants their account to remain public, work out some ground rules on what they should and shouldn’t share or whether you should follow them to help keep an eye on what they are sharing until you feel confident that they can manage this on their own. You might also want to keep a close eye on their friends’ list and encourage them no to accept ‘friend’ or contact requests from strangers, even if their profiles look innocent.
Managing personal information on social networks
Across the most popular social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, you’ll be able to set certain privacy settings to protect their personal data. To help you review or set these up, please see links to the InternetMatters.org site Privacy how-to guides for the most popular apps.
Resources to encourage children not to overshare
Scares, panics, and challengesWhat you will learnThe difference between online risks and harm.5 minute read
Tackling cyberbullyingWhat you will learnPractical tips to support a child that is experiencing cyberbullying.5 minute read
Chatting to strangersWhat you will learnThe difference between online risks and harm.5 minute read
Seeing inappropriate contentWhat you will learnCoping strategies to help young people deal with seeing things that may upset them online.5 minute read
Posting nudes and sextingWhat you will learnWhat to do if your child is affected by sexting.5 minute read
Online peer pressureWhat you will learnHow online peer pressure can influence your child's behaviour on and offline in positive and negative ways.5 minute read
Tackling hate speechWhat you will learnWhat should I do if my child is exposed to hate speech by other young people?5 minute read
Balancing screen time on social mediaWhat you will learnHow to help your child manage their screen time on social media5 minute read
Spending money onlineWhat you will learnPractical things help your child stay in control of their personal information.5 minute read
Online challenges, are they harmless?What you will learnHow some popular challenges may carry certain risks5 minute read
Spotting fake news and scamsWhat you will learnTips to help your child spot the difference between fact and fiction on social networks.5 minute read
Underage accounts on social mediaWhat you will learnHow to report underage accounts on a range of networks5 minute read
Gaming risks and benefitsWhat you will learnHow gaming can support young people's development and interactions with others but also risks to watch out for to help them game safely.5 minute read
Understanding community guidelinesWhat you will learnWhat to expect to see in most community guidelines to make your child aware of what is allowed on the platforms.5 minute read
What the law saysWhat you will learnAn outline of what the law says on a range of online issues5 minutes read