Personal information: a guide for parents and carers

Personal information: a guide for parents and carers

From online gaming to social media apps - if your child enjoys the internet it’s important you know how to protect their personal information and support them to make safe choices about what they share about themselves online

Parents text content

What is personal information?

Personal information is any information that can be used to identify your child.

It includes obvious things like their name and email address, date of birth, or where they live. It can also include some less obvious things, like who their family and friends are, where they go to school, or a photograph or video showing what they look like. Online it also includes their username and password.

Personal information also includes bank or payment details – although most of the time this will be your information, rather than your child’s.

Sharing personal information

There are lots of ways your child might share personal information.

This includes:

  • Sharing when creating a new online account. Most online sites, apps and games ask you to share some of your personal information, like your name and email address, when you create an account, as well as creating a username and password. If you have primary aged children, the accounts should be set up together or by you, so you know what information has been shared.
  • Choosing to share with others. Children love to share, and many of the apps, games and smart toys that children use to learn, socialise and play will also ask them to share information about themselves. This might be a picture of themselves, their birthday or their hobbies and interests
  • Accidental sharing. It’s easy for children to share things online and they may share personal information without thinking about it. Such as where they live by putting up a photo and putting #happytobehome.
  • Being tricked into sharing information. Your child could be tricked into sharing personal information by an unsafe website, scam email or pop up box. For example, children love competitions, prizes and giveaways, and may share their email address to get something in return.

Once shared, personal information could be used by others. For example, it could lead to the child being bullied, groomed  or blackmailed or it might be used by used by cyber criminals. Don’t worry, there are things you can do to help protect them and places you can go if things go wrong online.

How can you help protect your child?

1. Talk to your child about safe sharing. Talk to your child about personal information – what it is and when it is safe to share. Our Thinkuknow resources can help (see below). Make sure they know that some information should not be shared with others online and if they share something they shouldn’t, they should let you or another grown-up they trust know.

Read our parent's guide to privacy settings for more information about keeping your child’s information private.

2. Create anonymous usernames. On some sites, apps and games, children may be talking to other people that they don’t know offline. Let your child know that they shouldn’t share their full name or any other personal information about themselves such as the name of their school, address or telephone number.

3. Protect their usernames and passwords. Explain to your child that if other people see their username and/or password, the could use this information to access their account.  Any passwords they set should be strong and safe but easy for them to remember and they shouldn’t share their password with anyone, including their friends.

4. Think before they click. Remind them that some sites, emails and pop ups may try to trick them into clicking on links or sharing information. For example, they may offer free coins, avatars or upgrades. Before they click on any links, they should stop and ask for help from a grown up first.

Download our Cyber Security Activity Pack for fun ways to create strong passwords. 

Cyber Security

Cyber security is important because smartphones, computers and the internet are a part of all of our lives.

Cyber security is the way we reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cyber crime, by protecting the devices we use and the services we access online.  It’s also about preventing unauthorised access to the personal information we store on these devices, and online.

If you want to learn more about staying safe from cyber criminals read our article about cyber security for more details.