What do parents think, and do, about their children’s online privacy?

What do parents think, and do, about their children’s online privacy? (Parenting for a Digital Future)

Today Parenting for a Digital Future releases the third in a series of reports from our nationally representative survey of UK parents of children aged 0-17. This report explores the issue of what …

Debates about personal data and online privacy, including how and by whom data is being collected about children, are scattered across the headlines. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), including AI home assistants for kids, internet-enabled smart toys and ‘sharenting’, assumptions are often made about parents’ attitudes towards digital privacy, and the privacy-related digital skills they and their children may (or may not) have.


Our new research shows that online privacy is a concern for parents. Indeed, while overall, parents report few barriers that limit their use of the internet, amongst those who do report barriers, privacy is the top worry – 12% of parents say this. However, fears about privacy don’t straightforwardly translate into action. Fathers are more concerned about privacy than mothers, for example, but report fewer privacy-supporting digital skills. Parents who are more concerned about privacy also share more online, but they take steps to mitigate the risks that sharing might introduce to their children’s privacy.

The takeaway:

This report suggests that policy-makers need to ensure that parents and children are better prepared to navigate issues of privacy online, and that industry takes seriously concerns about privacy. At present, it seems that parents and children face a Faustian pact of sacrificing personal privacy in order to take advantage of much-valued services and opportunities to connect online.

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