Privacy and safe sharing
Privacy and safe sharing is one of the most important digital skills we can learn. Children should know what sensitive information is, and why it’s important to keep it private and secure. This will help them make good decisions around sharing their own or their friends’ or family members’ information.
Even as grown-ups we may accidentally share personal information online, and for children it can be even harder to understand what should stay private.
It’s important to explain that once something is shared online, or in a messaging app, it can be difficult to take back (even if you delete it). This could lead to negative consequences both online as well as in real life. Encourage your child to always stop and think “Should I really share or say this?” before sharing any information online.
Personal information is any detail of your life that can be used to identify you. Things like your full name, address, phone number, birthday, your location, and your photo – and in the case of children, things like their school’s name and uniform.
Even people we meet online that seem friendly, or websites/apps that look safe, may not be. Before sharing anything, encourage your child to think: Do I know the person in real life? Would I trust them to take care of my favorite toy? It’s worth checking before that the app or website is designed for kids. If the answer is no or they are unsure, then it’s best they check first with a trusted grown-up.
It’s good to encourage your child to ask permission before taking or sharing photos/ videos of other people. If the other person is not OK with it, your child shouldn’t do it. Ask your child to put themselves into the other person’s shoes and consider their feelings. If they want to share photos of themselves or their friends online, it is worth checking before that the app/website is designed for kids. Children under 13 should not be encouraged to share images or videos of themselves or others.
Encourage your child to always ask why a digital service requests your data – do they have a valid reason? For example, does that map-app really need to know where you were two weeks ago or where you are when you’re not using the app? Help them select privacy settings that you’re comfortable with as a family – you can use a search engine to find guides on how to do this.
The same way we leave footprints when walking on a sandy beach, we leave digital footprints whenever we move around in the digital world. These footprints can be information we share actively such as a photo, a ‘like’, a comment, a gaming subscription, etc., that shape our digital identity. Or they can be information we share passively with websites and apps such as location tracking, cookies on websites and data-collection within apps.
If in doubt, ask first! If your child isn’t sure whether it’s OK to share something online – about themselves or someone else – they should always check with a parent, caregiver or grown-up they trust. One of the best ways to keep your child safe online is to stay in the loop, checking in for regular chats. Our LEGO® Build & Talk activities will help get you started.
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