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How to protect your family's privacy online

17 April 2018

Every time you or your teenager signs up to a new social media platform, you’re handing out information about who you are.

While most social media platforms are good at protecting the information you provide, they have no liability for what someone shares on their profile. This means it’s up to you or your teenager to know where information is stored and who can see it or access it online.

Know how to manage your privacy settings

Staying on top of privacy settings is the most important thing you can do to protect both your own and your child’s privacy online. If you know how to control where your information goes, you’ll be able to protect yourself as much as possible. Different platforms have different policies and settings which change regularly, so make sure you know how to update your own and your teenager's privacy settings whenever needed.

5 tips for keeping personal information safe online

  1. Make a list of information which is okay to share.
    Have a conversation with your child about what information is OK to share only with friends, like full name, location and age.
  2. Talk to your child about why identity is important.
    Give them examples of how their information could be used against them. For example, discuss how a bank uses a name, date of birth and home address to verify account holders over the phone.
  3. Don't over-emphasise the bad or scary stuff.
    Social media and the digital world can also be a very helpful way of keeping track of your own information and interacting with the world. Try to inform your children of the importance of being responsible without scaring them away from being open with you about their online behaviour.
  4. Remove the year from your date of birth.
    It's fine to keep your birthdate in your online profile (it seems to be the only way birthdays are remembered these days), but showing your full date of birth can be a risk. Try keeping the day and month, but change the year to something different.
  5. Update your password every six to eight weeks.
    (See below for a list of best-practice passwords tips.)

Updating your password – the dos and don'ts


  • Change it often, at least every 6 to 8 weeks
  • Use a phrase you know well and will remember. Try using a line of your favourite song. Then, when you need to update it, just use the following line in the song
  • Include symbols, such as % @ & !
  • Include numbers and upper-case letters
  • Double check. Log out of, and then back into, your account/s on all your devices to ensure that the password reset has been established.


  • Use the same password for everything
  • Use pet names or children’s names, as they are very easy to guess, especially if you have names listed on your profile
  • Use something completely abstract that you won’t remember
  • Write them all down in the same location, unless that place is really secure.

What to do if your privacy has been breached

Identity theft is a serious crime and should be reported to the police. If you think someone has been using your accounts without your permission, or your accounts seem to be doing funny things (like posting content you haven't approved of), change all your passwords.

For more information, have a look at the e-safety commission website.

Now more than ever, protecting your privacy and safety online is essential, not only for you, but your friends and family associated online. So, follow the advice, take the tips on-board and stay safe.

Reach out logo

ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.

If your child, or anyone you know is having issues with self-esteem, confidence or mental or physical health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.

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