Children's data and privacy online: growing up in a digital age


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More about the project


With growing concerns over children’s online privacy and the commercial uses of their data, it is vital that children’s understandings of the digital environment, their digital skills and their capacity to consent are taken into account in designing services, regulation and policy. Prof Sonia Livingstone is leading this ICO-funded project that aims to listen to children’s voices and develop tools to better empower them.

Research questions

  • How do children understand, value and negotiate their privacy online?
  • What capabilities or vulnerabilities shape children’s navigation of the digital environment?
  • What evidence gaps regarding children’s data and privacy online impede the development of policy and practice?
  • What are the implications of children’s understanding and practices for the realisation of their rights by relevant stakeholders?


The project takes a child-centred approach and prioritises children’s own voices and experiences within the wider framework of evidence-based policy development. It involved:

  • A systematic evidence mapping to review existing knowledge on children’s data and privacy online, identify research gaps and outline areas of potential policy and practice development.
  • Focus group research with 150 children of secondary school age, their parents, and educators, from selected schools in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Child juries for evaluating online privacy resources and reviewing recommendations for policy and practice.
  • Creating this online toolkit to support and promote children’s digital privacy skills and awareness.
  • More about our methods and research findings.

About this toolkit

We developed this online toolkit to promote children’s understanding of the digital environment and support them to make good decisions about privacy online. The toolkit is aimed at children of secondary school age, parents and educators, and was developed with the participation of a mix of children in Years 8 and 10. It includes information and resources on: why privacy online is important, how online data is generated and used, children’s rights, privacy-related risks and protective strategies, where to seek support, suggestions and recommendations from children, and fun resources to watch and play.

With the help of experts and practitioners, we collected the best resources on online privacy and reviewed them based on a number of criteria: relevance and suitability to children, quality, free access, no need for creating an account, and no installing or downloading. A list of selected resources were presented to three child juries in March 2019 where 18 children were given the opportunity to assess the selected resources and help design the online toolkit.

We would like to thank all the children, parents, and educators who took part in our project, as well as our advisory group of experts for their contribution and insights.


Project team

Professor Sonia Livingstone (Principal Investigator); Mariya Stoilova (Research Officer); Rishita Nandagiri (Research Assistant)


We would like to thank the Information Commissioner's Office for funding this project. 

More about the research project

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