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Privacy

Hi Sam,

I was wondering about my privacy/independence rights. I’m a 15 year old living in Northern Ireland and I get a lot of stress from the tight control my parents have on my life. I desperately want to move out, not because I am ungrateful, rather that I need some space to be an honest version of myself that I cannot be in my current home. For example, I think I am gay but I am too scared to google dates for pride, or even watch certain lgbt inclusive movies because my parents check my search history, and I will be shouted at or outed before I’m ready. I am not allowed to go on a walk without the location tracker on my phone turned on.

Is this normal? I don’t know what to do. I don’t think running away is the best option. Is there any advice you can give?

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

It’s natural to want privacy and it can become more and more important to us the older we get. It’s also natural for parents to want to keep their children safe - they may want to know who their talking to and what they do online. This can create conflict or arguments when children and their parents want different things. The best thing to do is compromise if possible. This means finding a way for you to have some privacy and your parents to know you’re safe. But if you can’t do this then there are ways to get some privacy online .

Everyone needs time to themselves and it’s okay to want to have some things private. It can feel especially important when you’re exploring things like your sexuality, questions about growing up and exploring who you are. Trying to understand more about who we are can makes us feel vulnerable and want to keep this private.

It’s okay for parents to want to keep track of who you’re talking to and what you’re doing online. But there’s a limit to how much they should do this and it can be good for them to give you some space to explore yourself without feeling like you’re being judged. Getting the balance right can be difficult. A good way to find that balance is to talk about it together and find a compromise.

Coming to a compromise means you might be fully happy with what’s decided. But you should also get more freedom in return. Understanding how both sides feel is the first step towards finding a solution that works.

If you can't find a compromise, or your parents won't, then there are other ways to get privacy. Your school should have computers where you can access the internet, as well as your local library. It’s okay to use these public spaces if they’re more private than your home.

Whatever you decide to do, there will always be someone to talk to at Childline. I’m really glad you sent me this letter, thanks for sharing.

Sam

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