Study: teach kids online privacy

THE privacy commissioner is calling on parents and teachers to teach children basic safety rules for the virtual world, following a study that reveals a lack of awareness about the issue among youngsters.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD, 個人資料私隱專員公署) enlisted Baptist University of Hong Kong’s Centre for the Advancement of Social Sciences Research (社會科學研究中心) last October to conduct an exploratory study to identify privacy concerns faced by children.

At least 40 interviews were conducted. Respondents included non-governmental organisations, junior and senior secondary school students, parents of kindergarten, primary and secondary pupils, plus primary and secondary teachers.

The study found parents and teachers do not provide sufficient education and support on personal privacy, even though children going online are getting younger. Some parents indicated they do not have adequate knowledge of how to provide support, so they simply tell their children not to disclose their personal information to strangers.

At schools, teachers admitted there was a lack of support on their part since education on privacy issues is conducted only through a few talks or classes, and is not covered by the formal curriculum.

The personal data watchdog is particularly concerned about children’s privacy issues related to the use of social networking sites, as the lack of awareness may pose a serious risk. It pointed out that parents have a responsibility to protect their children’s privacy though some of the adults admitted that they were very keen on posting their kids’ photos or videos online.

“These digital footprints are created for children who are too young to understand or consent. Their future ability to find, reclaim or delete materials posted by others is uncertain,” the privacy watchdog said.

(The Standard, Jasmine Siu, 20 May 2015)