ProTechThem: Building Awareness for Safer and Technology-Savvy Sharenting


Over the past years, the creation of new “online identities” (the social identity that we acquire in cyberspace) and the expansion of the usability of our “digital identity” (the digital storage of our attributed, biographical or even biological identities) have entailed, alongside many advantages, also new and emerging risks and crime vulnerabilities, as identity information can be misused in many ways and create severe harms. An area of particular interest is the one connected to the sharing of identifying and sensitive information of minors, who are often overexposed online in good-faith by parents and guardians in so called “sharenting” practices. Beyond risks due to negative psychological repercussions in ignoring children’s desire to having (or not) an online identity, there are concerns regarding the potential for grooming and child abuse, and the potential for identity crimes (such as identity fraud and identity theft), especially keeping in mind that today’s children, in a few years, will be those employing digital identities in many aspects of their lives, and will need a clean and curated digital identity to be fully part of many aspects of our society.

ProTechThem improves evidence on online criminogenic factors that contribute to serious (cyber) crimes – i.e., identity theft and frauds, grooming and child abuse – while offering solutions in the form of practical guidance on how to best to promote ethical social media platform algorithms and prevent or mitigate some effects of those crimes. The project also improves cyber security behaviours amongst the public, and specifically amongst parents, guardian and relevant others in constant contact with minors by informing and educating them on cyber threats and key socio-technical aspects of cyber security; and by encouraging the adoption of protective behaviours and, when needed, basic security measures.

ProTechThem (2021-2024) is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – £ 963,689.00.