Children and privacy

Where does my child actually leave personal data?

Boy hiding in front of a notebook. Picture: Mira Mikosch

Boy hiding from a notebook. Image: Mira Mikosch

Whether via smartphone, tablet, console or PC, the online world is largely designed to capture as much data as possible. On the one hand, it’s about becoming more user-friendly – but above all, it’s about making money.

Data that is directly queried and knowingly entered

In a direct approach, children are asked to give personal information, for example when registering or winning a lottery. They should enter their name, address, e-mail, age, telephone number, hobbies or preferences.

A lot of personal data is posted in chats, networks and participation offerings, which can also be analyzed by companies: texts, photos or videos.

Data collected and left behind unnoticed in the background

When surfing, on Facebook or playing games on smartphones, tablets or PCs, user data is collected: the number and duration of visits, individual page views and much more. Locations can also be recorded and evaluated. For the users this happens mostly unnoticed.

Many game apps especially for children unfortunately do not handle their data carefully either. These are often details that are not necessary for the game at all. Even popular games, such as "Pokemon Go", can be used for this purpose or "Minecraft, collect more data than necessary – and pass it on to advertising networks. From a privacy perspective, this is very concerning.

The child should be careful with his data – how do parents teach him that??

Note on door:'Privat! Bitte anklopfen!'; Bild: Internet-ABC

note on door: "Private! Please knock!"; Image: Internet-ABC

Private and public

First of all, explain to your daughter/son the difference between private and public: private is what is my own, what not everyone should or is allowed to know about me. Public are the things that all people can find out about me.

Ask your child what he or she would reveal about him or herself in a public place. Does it have concerns to tell what or whom it likes especially? Or when it’s sad, when it’s thoughtful? Show that the Internet is like this public place: Not everyone always gets to hear everything someone says about themselves. But there are people who pass on what has been said. And that’s how texts, pictures and videos can also spread online – and become accessible to more people than you actually intended.

Does your child sometimes want to retreat to his or her room?? If yes, teigen you him that it can be also in the net something good to be times simply for itself. Privacy is important! And everyone has a right to it – even the younger ones!

Personal or personal data

Last name, address, telephone number, school – anything that allows conclusions to be drawn about a person is not everyone’s business. Once this information has been sent via cell phone or smartphone or published on the Internet, it can also be accessed by strangers. They then know who is behind a personal statement or a perhaps somewhat embarrassing picture – and exploit this to the child’s disadvantage. So data protection also affects the child itself. This should be clear to him!

What’s more, it’s almost impossible to take the personal back out of the Internet – the Internet has a long memory! Even if the daughter deletes a video again, it may be that others have already copied the video and show it again somewhere else. This also applies to Internet sites such as YouTube as well as to apps on smartphones.


Agree on rules for the use of cell phones, tablets, consoles and PCs. Entering personal information should only be done after consulting with you, if at all. Explain why this is important and the consequences of being too open with information about one’s private life.

Be a role model

What services do you use? What do you publish about yourself? Where and how? Especially Facebook (and thus also WhatsApp) and Google see data protectionists very critical. How parents themselves deal with personal data on the Internet, how closely parents pay attention to the conditions of use for apps for the smartphone – the offspring get to know this quite well! Model responsible use of privacy – and explain to your child why you are doing this.

How can the child avoid that others get to his data?

Settings and permissions

Many apps collect individual data, for example the location of the player or the entries from the address book. For some apps these data are also necessary – but for many also not. Pay attention to this before downloading the app. Does your child want to use Instagram, TikTok or other social services (please pay attention to the minimum age!), the settings should be set to "private" as far as possible stand. This at least halay prevents contact with strangers. (Private, however, does not mean that the producers of the app also respect their privacy.)


A good password can prevent strangers from accessing personal data. Passwords should be at least 8 digits long and consist of a mixture of upper and lower case letters, digits and special characters. They should also be changed regularly.

Here you can check the security of a password together with your child, or you can choose a password. Create a secure password:

Conscious selection of offers

Hardly anyone can afford the effort to carefully check every app along with its terms and conditions (T&Cs). Therefore, resort to child-friendly, high-quality and trustworthy games and offers on the net. For choosing new and unfamiliar services, consult recommendations from evaluation services (link tips below).

Tip: Unfortunately, many popular apps do not handle users’ personal data very carefully. Therefore, discuss the advantages and disadvantages together. Clarify where there are questionable aspects, so that at least an awareness of data protection arises and your child does not make naive and uninformed entries.

Someone has published photos with my child on them – what can parents do??

Find out who published the texts, videos or photos. Contact that person and ask them to delete the content. If the person shows no insight, inform the provider of the page or social network.

For providers based in Germany

Demand that data be deleted. If the provider is based in Germany, it is legally obliged to do so. Contact the provider. You can find the address in the privacy policy, in the imprint or via denic.en or Describe the incident and ask for deletion of the data.

For providers based abroad

Try the approach described above. However, the provider may be. Legally not required to delete. Therefore, it can be very difficult to have content blocked or deleted. Get advice and help from public advice centers (privacy watchdogs, consumer centers). In extreme cases, specialists or lawyers can be commissioned.

(On this question, also note the following checklist!)

Checklist for children and parents: First aid in case of data misuse

What can we do together when data has been misused??

  • I (the child) let my parents know.
  • Together we find out who published the data, the information, the pictures or videos.
  • We contact this person and ask them to delete the content.
  • If the person does not show any insight, we inform the provider of the page. We describe the incident to him and ask that things be deleted.
  • If there are extra buttons to report on networks, we use them.
  • If false or mean things about me turn up in the major search engines, my parents can file a deletion request ("right to be forgotten").
  • If nothing helps, my parents can turn to official authorities, for example, to the data protection commissioners of the states or to the police.

Protecting data together!

For your child to be mindful of his data, he needs an understanding about it,

  • What data is and what it reveals about a person,
  • why it is important to keep this data for yourself and to protect it,
  • what the difference is between "private and "publicly" is,
  • What the child should never reveal about himself on the internet, and
  • where it leaves traces on the Internet.

You can explore these questions together with your child: in the learning module on the topic of "Data privacy".

Playfully record rules in the contract

. this works well with a media use agreement between parents and children:

  • klicksafe and Internet-ABC: Media use contract

Facts and figures on data privacy

The 2016 KIM study asked children between the ages of 6 and 13: Have you ever left photos or movies of yourself or friends or family, your email address or phone number on the Internet (on social networks like Facebook or any other service)?

  • Almost 60 percent answered in the negative.
  • 32 percent had already uploaded a photo or video of themselves; among the older age group (12 to 13 years), 50 percent had done so.
  • Their phone or cell phone number had been revealed on the Internet by only 2 percent of 10- to 11-year-olds and 11 percent of 12- to 13-year-olds.

(KIM Study 2016 – Childhood, Internet, Media, ed. from the Medienpadagogischer Forschungsverbund Suswest, S. 65f.)

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