Federal Regulations Tighten Web Privacy Rules to Protect Children
Have you ever thought about what’s happening behind the scenes when your child is playing on their favorite website? Chances are that the site is running complicated analytics tools to capture information about your child to share with marketers for advertising dollars.
In a recent New York Times article called U.S. is Tightening Web Privacy Rule to Shield Young, Natasha Singer reported that popular sites aimed at children and run by companies like McDonalds, Nickelodeon, Disney , and WebKinz are likely to begin asking for parental permission when using cookies to track web browsing history.
Current federal regulations put in place by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) require parent permission when information such as email addresses, names, phone numbers, and home addresses are required from children under the age of 13. COPPA is the reason why kids under the age of 13 cannot have a Facebook account.
While new federal regulations designed to protect children even more are expected soon, it’s always important to have a conversation with your kids about the kinds of information they’re sharing online. Encourage kids to:
- Think before you upload photos and video. It may be fun to take a photo or create a video using your computer’s built in webcam but where are those images and videos being stored? Have you ever thought about who might be able to see them after they’re shared? Talk to your child about the use of the camera on their home computer and how it not only captures their image but also what’s in the background that could give away important information about who they are and where they live. Discuss the fact that nothing is ever private on the internet, especially those user generated photos and videos your child just uploaded.
- Discuss who it is and isn’t ok to share your name with. Personal privacy online is an important issue that is hard for kids to grasp. Just as you may not want to tell a stranger you meet in real life your name, you probably don’t want to share it on the internet either. Talk to kids about the difference of using your real name in an email to grandma, grandpa, and known friends and family members versus those on online sites. Work with your kids to develop an alias. Kids love pretending so talk to them about an online alias that they can always use on any website to keep their name private.
While federal regulations are designed to keep our kids safer when using their favorite sites, it’s dangerous to assume that your kids are knowledgeable about the risks and rewards of being online.
Girl is using tablet PC in a cafe via Shutterstock