Both age restrictions and privacy policies are put in place for our protection and the protection of the young.
• Parents are allowing tweens to join social media sites when they are clearly not of age.
Most privacy policies are written in terminology that the average person is not able to comprehend or interpret.
“Other researchers have found that people do not read privacy policies — they’re unreadable. They are filled with jargon that is meant to be understandable only to the people writing them, or to people who work in the advertising industry today. Words like ‘affiliate’: nobody outside of the digital marketing industry knows what that means.”
According to research by KidSay, tweens’ (kids ages 8-11) number one website is YouTube. This report also found that 93% of tweens use YouTube and 69% claim to have an account.
The concern with this is that according to their Safety Center — which is designed to protect your children — you must be 13-years-old to have a YouTube account. There were rumors that YouTube was considering offering accounts to kids under 13. I think it would be beneficial since we know the kids are there already — and hopefully it could have tighter and safer parameters for them.
In the meantime, parents need to be cautious of the hidden dangers that lurk on YouTube, like the discovery of fake online pharmacies and cyber-criminals selling credit cards. Both of these issues are considered cyber-crimes that, until YouTube becomes kid-friendly, your tweens could be exposed to.
Online safety for all ages:
In reality most websites, social media sites and networking sites have terms of service, a code of conduct and privacy policies. Listed in them you will have age restrictions. As more and more young children become cyber-savvy at younger ages, I believe it is great news that giants like Google will work towards fitting the needs of this audience.
Until then parents, grandparents and guardians need to understand that age restrictions are in place to protect your child. You may believe your child is ready for Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or my latest favorite — EllenTube — but they all clearly state ages 13 years and up and your child may not be ready for what they could encounter on sites without age-appropriate limitations. Tumblr’s terms of service is my favorite:
• Web IQ: How much do you know about the web and digital technology? Take the quiz from PEW Research.
• Take the family online safety survey from Digital Citizen’s Alliance.
• Double check your privacy settings on all your social media sites, regularly.
• Privacy policies are confusing, but start taking the time to understand them.
• No one is above the law, keep that in mind when you allow a tween on a site that requires them to lie about their age.