Digital wellbeing and privacy

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explain how online technology can affect your wellbeing
  • identify how to access support and services for your wellbeing at UQ
  • explore ways to be safe and responsible online.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the potential positive and negative effects of your digital activities
  • reflect on your use of online technology and use strategies to control it
  • understand the causes of inappropriate online behaviour and what actions you can take
  • control the information you provide online to protect your privacy.

4. Protecting your privacy

Limit the amount of personal information you share

The simplest way you can protect your privacy online is to limit the amount of information you share in the first place. Be particularly careful about sharing personal information (date of birth, address, phone numbers) online.

This task shows tips from the eSafety Commissioner on protecting your personal information online.

Downloading and installing apps

The eSafety Commission has eSafety guides for different apps with tips on how to protect your personal information and security.

Before you get an app check:

  • whether it is from a reputable source
  • online reviews to verify its safety
  • your privacy and security settings.

When you install the app:

  • don't use the same log in details you use for other apps e.g. your Facebook account
  • read the installation messages carefully
  • turn off in-app purchases
  • pay attention to any notices or emails you receive for the app, in case there are changes. 

If you have concerns but are required to install an app or software on your device for work or study:

  • check your privacy settings prior to installation
  • make sure you have installed antivirus software and it is up to date e.g. Sophos Home
  • log out of any programs you don't want running at the same time
  • consider temporarily removing any sensitive data to another location, such as a hard drive or another device
  • make sure to fully uninstall the app when you are finished:

Alternative facts!

Don't be phish food! recommends giving 'alternative facts', rather than your real details, for platforms that require you to complete a user profile but have no good reason for needing that information. Don't do this for official websites that need your real data, such as banking, educational institutions or government sites as that would have legal implications.

Social media privacy settings

Regularly check your social media privacy settings:

  • Set your profile to private
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust
  • Disable location sharing.

Create strong passwords and vary them between services and platforms

Read our module on password management and consider using a password manager.

Do not use the Login with Facebook option. Researchers have identified security and privacy concerns with this method of authentication.

Share information through appropriate channels

Some online tools are not appropriate places to share information. Personal information should generally not be shared on unencrypted services or websites. You may want to consider setting up a virtual private network (VPN), which creates a point-to-point secure connection. UQ has a VPN available for UQ student and staff.

Read The Best VPN Services for 2023 by PCMag and watch the video how a VPN works.

When choosing a VPN, you may need to consider factors such as cost, speed, location, and device and operating systems compatibility.

Block third-party cookies and trackers

Consider installing a browser extension to stop internet tracking. DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials, Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere are reputable extensions.

Note: Blocking third-party cookies can cause issues accessing your lecture recordings, TurnItIn or the ePortfolio system. If you are concerned about privacy, an alternative to allowing third party cookies is allowing exceptions to individual websites.

Review your browser settings

Your browser settings can be adjusted to provide extra protection against cookies and trackers. It also helps to regularly delete cookies that you may have collected during browsing, to stop websites remembering your past behaviour. Make sure you regularly update your browser to the latest version.

Read Stay Smart Online's Browsing the web safely.

They suggest that "by using a combination of preventative measures and making good choices online you can stay safe when browsing the web".

Security security icon

Your digital security is a key aspect of digital citizenship. While online, you should be aware of the potential risks and take steps to secure your information and connection. It’s important to think about protecting things like your tax file number or passport details before entering them online, because you can't always be sure who is collecting these details and what their intentions are.

Watch Protection Methods (LinkedIn Learning, 6m53s) (requires UQ log in) to learn more about how to protect yourself online.

The Internet essentials module has more information on protecting yourself against cybercrime, such as phishing attacks and malware.

Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Critical judgement

 Ethical and social understanding

Check your knowledge

Check what you know about this topic:

Take the quiz

Support at UQ

Access UQ services to assist you with personal or study-related issues.