The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was established in 1998 and is a law that was passed by Congress to protect the online information of children from being shared with third parties. This law was well-intentioned and looks out for children under the age of 13, who may not have the best discretion and are often the biggest targets for marketing companies. Although privacy advocates and parents are continuously pushing for stricter laws on online privacy, it’s interesting to note that a recent study found that the majority of parents who had kids on Facebook knew it – and helped them get there.
The study was conducted by Harris Interactive and polled the parents of kids ages 10 to 14. Most were aware that their children had accounts on Facebook and actually helped them lie about their birth dates to create an account. Even though COPPA is designed to help protect kids, this law can’t carry out its full expectations when children and parents are outwardly going against its terms.
And for those who are on Facebook, you know that it’s not that hard to create an account, as a birth date is needed and just about anyone can tweak the year the child was born. Because of privacy issues, it’s difficult to check the birth date to ensure it’s legitimate, as there would need to be access to children’s birth records and other pertinent information.
As the internet grows to include more social media networking sites, COPPA rules have had to adjust their laws to protect children. However, the online privacy of children can never be truly protected when parents and kids are lying to get around them.
Most parents agree that they don’t find social networking sites like Facebook to be a threat to their child, which is why they allow them to overstep the boundaries. With the notion that ‘everyone’s on Facebook’, most parents feel that they can monitor their child just fine by watching over his or her account and being friends on Facebook.
The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t agree and warns that children under the age of 13 are not only targets of marketing companies, but also lack the awareness to watch over their information and protect themselves from predators. The best tactic – if the site isn’t designed for kids and pre-teens, let the rules speak for themselves. There’s no reason to lie to get around the hurdles, when your child will be 13 one day soon.
Source: CBS News