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Key areas of research ethics: Processing sensitive personal data in research with children

This key area provides important considerations about processing sensitive data that arise in various phases of research with children and young people. Furthermore, it addresses a number of key researcher questions to provide more in-depth information under relevant headings. We also provide links to related resources. In addition to a general introduction to the topic, the key area includes more detailed information about the following frequently asked questions:

  • What is sensitive personal data, and when can researchers who work with children and young people process personal data?

  • How can sensitive personal data be accessed, stored and analysed?

  • How can children and young people’s privacy, anonymity and personal integrity be respected and protected in research?

On this page, you also find resources to help you to understand more about working with sensitive personal data when engaging with children and young people. The resources include animated films, key readings, webinars, blogs, links to our Zotero library and more. 


Researchers will occasionally need to gather sensitive personal data from children and young people for the purposes of research. When researching children and young people’s use of the Internet and digital media researchers encounter communication that can be of an intimate and private nature. It can also include sensitive personal data. As such, researchers need to be mindful of ethical and legal requirements related to the processing of this kind of data. Following the European General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), sensitive personal data might include information about a child or young person’s race, ethnicity, political opinion or religious or philosophical beliefs; genetic, biometric or health related data; or, data about an individual’s sex life or sexual orientation.

A reading list and other resources you may want to check out...

Watch the CO:RE animated movie to help researchers explain kids' rights as research participants

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Video: "Have you been invited to participate in research? Then you should watch this film."; a resource for researchers working with children and young people. | License: CC-By-NC-SA | If you should have trouble loading this video or want to see this movie in other languages, you can watch it here on our YouTube channel. | Please cite as: Staksrud, E., Ní Bhroin, N., Torp, I.S., & Johannessen, L.O. (2022). Have you been invited to participate in research? Then you should watch this film. Retrieved DD Month YYYY, from

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