Children want to know how to protect personal data in the era of new technologies

A child has the right to privacy and to protection of personal rights, therefore it is worth encouraging them to learn more about personal data protection. And as the experience of the “Your data – Your concern” programme shows, students also have good ideas on how to educate, for example, senior citizens about data protection.

Children are very vulnerable. They do not always know how to protect themselves from the dangers of sharing their own personal information while using new technologies.

When children's data is processed, not only is the existing risk of harm to children increased, but these same children are exposed to new types of harm related to, inter alia: the unauthorised disclosure of their data to unknown persons and then attempts to trick the child or their relatives into providing further information about them or to use the information they have in an abusive manner. As a consequence of careless online activity, children can become victims of cybercriminals. It is worth highlighting here the harmful actions of peers out of a desire for revenge, malice, for entertainment, who may use data and images shared by children, but also their parents (even several years earlier).

Adults must remember that the child has the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal rights. Moreover, the fact that the child does not yet know how to manage herself/himself should make it all the more important for parents or guardians to do so cautiously on his behalf.

Young people are doing well online, but...

According to a study carried out by and the National Debt Register under the auspices of the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO) entitled “Knowledge of personal data security in Poland”, young people are doing well online.

Encouragingly, about 90 percent of the respondents declare that they know how to keep their personal data secure. Young people feel most secure in this regard. In the 18–24 age group, almost 33 percent of respondents say they definitely know how to keep their personal data secure. In contrast, one in four 25–34 year olds are absolutely sure of their security knowledge. Those aged 65 and over have the most doubts.

Nearly 36 percent of respondents in the 18–24 age group are also confident in their ability to recognise fraud attempts aimed at phishing. And when asked how they verify the authenticity of messages and calls they receive, respondents most often point to checking the caller online and analysing the email address of the message sender. In addition, respondents also pay attention to the graphic form and content of the message they receive and check the attached link carefully.

Intergenerational difference

The fact that children and young people are better at using information technology than their parents and grandparents seems completely natural. This is supported by the widespread access to mobile devices and apps and the openness of the younger generation to such solutions. In addition, the period of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for solutions such as teaching children and adolescents by distance, remote methods has resulted in a widespread acceleration of the digital transformation and thus a faster education of young people in the use of new technologies.

The results of the survey clearly indicate that older people have a lower awareness of risks than the youngest respondents. This means that the oldest group of respondents does not always correctly identify targeted messages as potentially dangerous. It is therefore important to continue to educate the public on the risks and principles of personal data protection.

It should be borne in mind that without the support and assistance of young people, it will be much more difficult for older people to assimilate security principles. Young people, on the other hand, despite being well versed in the subject of data protection and privacy, still lack reflection and practical knowledge in everyday life. Sometimes they need more forethought, life wisdom and anticipation of the consequences of their actions in order to participate safely in the digital reality. This is why education in the area of data protection is so important.

Your data – Your concern... and sometimes our common concern

The ways in which young people can help the elderly can be seen, for example, in the initiatives that students prepared this school year in the competition held within the framework of the nationwide educational programme “Your data – Your concern”. The task in the competition addressed to students under the motto “Personal Data Protection on a Daily Basis” was to prepare a voice recording addressed to seniors on the principles of personal data protection. The authors of the podcast included tips on how senior citizens can effectively and safely protect their data. So it is worth teaching children about data protection also, because we can learn a lot from them too.