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.
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.