Online Privacy

Help children protect their privacy online
Learn what’s OK and not OK for children to share online.

Privacy means something very different to children who’ve grown up online. Almost everything around them encourages them to share personal information. It’s a way to have fun, make new friends, learn new information and express themselves. But not everything in their lives is meant to be shared. Putting their entire lives online can leave children vulnerable.

To share or not to share?

There is some content that is probably fine for children to share, such as information about their hobbies and interests.  Or, as long as they have permission, it’s usually OK for them to post pictures of family and friends.

Some children may also spend time talking to other players while gaming online. Conversations about the game are fine as long as they don’t share any personal information.

Information that should not be shared online includes:

  • Passwords
  • Addresses (e.g., home, school)
  • Locations
  • School name
  • Phone number(s)

    Children who post these items online may have their identities stolen, become victims of an online scam or have their computers or online accounts hacked.

What can I do?

  • Discuss privacy settings. Most social media sites and apps have privacy settings. Encourage kids to adjust these settings so only people they have approved can see what they post.
  • Be aware of location-tags. Some phones and apps use GPS to keep track of users’ locations. Consider disabling location-tags in their settings, especially those on photos.  
  • Teach children how to create strong passwords. Explain that passwords should be more than 8 characters long and contain a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Encourage them to come up with an acronym or a song so their password is easy for them to remember, but hard for other people to guess.
  • Help children and teens avoid online scams. Explain that scams often target children and teens promising money or prizes. Tell them never to provide personal information on a website or pop-up without checking with a trusted adult first.

Start the conversation!

Use these discussion starters to talk about protecting privacy online.

  • Why do you think it’s important to only add friends you know in real life on social media?
  • Do you know how to change your privacy settings on social media websites and apps?
  • Do you know how to disable location-tagging on your phone or in the apps you use?
  • Have you ever seen a pop-up or ad that asked you for personal information? What did you do?
  • How easy do you think your passwords are to guess? Do you know how to make them stronger?