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Protecting Children’s Information in Hong Kong

Before the recent Ying Wa Girls’ School debacle over a documentary film of its students being shown to the public and the controversy over whether the parental consent covered the public showing of the film, many parents in Hong Kong may not have given a second thought to signing school parental consent forms. After this debacle, some parents may give the parental consent form a more careful read and may even ask more questions about the purpose and scope of allowing use of their children’s personal information, photos and videos. Here are the top tips on protecting your child’s information in Hong Kong.

Image source: Shutterstock

1. Read parent consent forms and consider to opt out of some requests for giving a child’s information

Parent consent forms can be a one-liner or be detailed in setting out the purpose, extent and use of collection of your child’s personal information. The child’s personal information is protected under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in Hong Kong. For children under 18 years old, the parent or guardian of the child needs to approve of the use of the child’s image and other personal information for a stated purpose.

Parents should consider carefully the purpose of using their child’s personal information and whether the use and extent of the information collected is more than the stated purpose. Some schools may adopt an online form where you can opt out of giving your child’s personal information such as taking photos or videos at school events. If your school doesn’t allow this option, ask.

2. Only share a child’s image and information after discussing with your child and considering the consequences

Image source: Shuttertock/ HQuality

Search within yourself when uploading a photo or a funny quote from your child to social media. Put yourself in your child’s shoes–would you want that embarrassing photo of yourself tripping over your own feet as a kid be made available for all to see? If the answer is a definite no, then don’t upload that pic.

Discuss with your child whether they want to have their photos uploaded to your social media account and why you want to upload them. Respect their decision.

3. Choose Cookies Wisely–and Teach Your Kids

Cookies on websites monitor your browsing activities and your likes and even your browsing history. It is like having a silent Big Brother looking over your shoulder constantly to see what websites you are surfing, what you like to eat, what you like to wear. When your kids surf websites, teach them to choose only cookies which are necessary for enjoying and using the website. Good websites will explain and allow you to choose the level of cookies which are enabled during a child’s website use.

Source: Shutterstock

4. Set parental controls and privacy and security settings

For video games aimed at children, you can choose to allow your child to access only age-appropriate games and to disable access to chatrooms where your child might chat with strangers. Granted, kids these days are smart–they could set up a new account on Roblox without parental controls. Here’s where child monitoring software may come in handy. They help parents monitor the types of websites that your kid accesses and sorts them out in categories and amount of use. Talk to your child before using such monitoring software. The key word is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Source: Dreamstime

Talk to your child about keeping safe in the virtual world as they would in the real world. It’s the best way to keep your child safe through childhood and beyond.


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