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Online Security Awareness and Protection for children

Oct 23 - Brian Siney

Featured in Digital Review 23rd October 2018

“Because when it comes to your (and your child’s) private data, it’s gets personal !! “

I think we are all aware of the great benefits of the internet and social media platforms today but this view is increasingly being challenged given the risks to children from the unregulated activities of some online companies, the deliberate deployment of additive gaming and social media features aimed at children and the potential risk of technological bias embedded in their operating codes/algorithms. So should we be concerned or is it all media hype. What is the real picture of Jersey childrens’ experience of the internet and social media?

Lets look at the recently published “Jersey School Survey Report 2018” which provides a really interesting read, particularly in relation to young children and teenagers use of social media, gaming, internet and of their online experiences. Some interesting statistics to share with you are;

  1. Over 80% of Year 10 and Year 12 students used social networking sites everyday
  2. 70% of Year 10 and Year 12 students had at least 3 hours a day of “screen time” (e.g. playing computer games, emailing, watching tv)
  3. Proportion of children using internet chatrooms/social networking sites everyday increased considerably from Year 6 (20%), to Year 8 (62%), to Year 10 (79%)
  4. Almost 40% of Year 6 children had a social media account in their own name! [even-though facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube minimum age to open an account is 13]
  5. Of the 40% of Year 6 children, 18% (female) 14% (male) received a message that scared them or made them feel threatened
  6. Proportion of children feeling pressurised to look/appear a certain way on social media increased considerably from Year 6 (14% female, 12% male), Year 8 (33%, 17%), Year 10 (48%, 21%), Year 12 (61%, 30%).
  7. 26% of all Year 6 to Year 12 students had sent a message to a stranger through an online chatroom, analysed as Year 6 (9% female, 14% male), Year 8 (15%, 21%), Year 10 (35%, 42%), Year 12 (37%, 44%).
  8. 11% of Year 8,10,12 students had sent someone a sexual video or photo of themselves

So, are you surprised by any of the statistics above? Are you more or less likely to be concerned now about children using the internet and social media platforms? Is the subject of your concern the child or the technology? Interestingly, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently directed the chief medical officer to draw up official guidelines to set maximum time limits for social media use to help young people (and parents) manage their on-screen time and to prevent excessive use damaging their mental health. Also, Apple have introduced a new “screen time” feature that allows parents to restrict the amount of time children spend in front of their screens online.

Most parents and guardians want to know the key things that they should be doing to protect, support and counsel their children when using online technologies. Here is some guidance and references to support you and your child(ren) going forwards;

  • Visit,, and These are excellent free online advice websites that provide information on an extremely wide range of issues from protecting your computer devices, social networking security and protection of children online. They are easy to read, provide age specific advice for children and it explains all about the various types of social media platforms and apps which children use today
  • Authorities in UK, USA and Canada have published standards for online companies that provide services to children and how they should demonstrate that they operate with integrity and to the standards expected of them. You may be interested to note the characteristics of what good reputable online companies are and the actions they should be taking to protect your child’s privacy and security. They are;
    • Clear rules of conduct for the use of the platform and regular enforcement of them
    • Ongoing monitoring of open forms to identify rule breakers
    • Features to allow children to block unwanted contact
    • Ability to report bad behaviour and inappropriate posts
    • Provide guidance to children to get help if they feel threatened online
    • Ongoing monitoring for criminal activity
    • Ongoing implementation of new initiatives to protect children

Why not discuss these topics with your child, and together, take a look at the social media apps and online platforms they are using, to understand the potential risks and see if they meet the standards expected of them.

  • The protection of children is an important part of the new GDPR data protection law. Article 8 sets out very strict conditions governing the provision of “information society services” to children under the age of 13 (see below for the age of a “child” in other EU countries). The only lawful bases for these services is where someone with parental responsibility has given consent on behalf of the child. However, such consent is not necessary in the context of preventive or counselling services offered directly to a child.

Online companies have to be extremely careful about the age limits and when they obtain the correct lawful parental consent and when to obtain consent directly from the teenager. Should the online company not follow the requirements of Article 8, then any data collected from the child is unlawfully processed and must be erased.

Parents /guardians should be aware that the data held by online companies of a “child” under 13 (or ages in table below) is subject to the right of erasure and so this can give extra protection for the child where the circumstances requires it.

In this new GDPR data protection world, parents/guardians, children and teenagers should be aware of their new and improved rights of action which can be taken against organisations who fail to meet the privacy and security standards now expected of them. Because when its your (or your child’s) private data, it gets personal!

*Age of a “child” across EU under GDPR law

Age 13 Age 14 Age 15 Age 16
Denmark Austria France ** All other
Sweden Italy EU Countries
UK Lithuania

Ensure Your Business is GDPR Compliant Today!

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Be Secure is a Jersey-based data consultancy business specialising in GDPR data protection, data privacy and cyber security. Leveraging extensive experience of founder Brian Siney, Be Secure offers a unique business focus and perspective for managing GDPR.

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