With the rash of data breaches and online hacking scandals, it’s vital that everyone take responsibility for their online identity. Now, compound that for parents of children who want to visit kid-friendly Internet sites and the risk of identity theft grows. Here are a few items and steps parents should understand before opening up the Internet to their children.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) passed by Congress in 1998 and effective as of 2000, directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enact regulations on websites that are directed toward audiences under the age of 13. A few of the requirements for these websites include: posting privacy policies, explaining how they collect and use personal information, and providing parents with access to review, correct, and delete information about their child.
COPPA’s definition of “personal information” was expanded in recent years to “include persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, as well as geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings.” For businesses this means new guidelines with which to comply, and for parents it means understanding these guidelines. The FTC released the guide entitled, “Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online,” which will help parents understand the rules and provide talking points for conversation with their children.
Steps Parents Can Take
1. Learn more about COPPA
2. Comply by the rules.
Sites like Facebook dodge COPPA’s regulations by requiring all users to be over age 13. However, one report estimates that about one third of Facebook’s users are underage, and that many of their parents are aware of it. If you’re the parent of a child under age 13, even if you think your child is mature enough to handle the site, you need to enforce Facebook’s age requirement, both to keep your kids safe and to model your own obedience to the law. (If you’re a Christian, you may want to use Romans 13:1 to explain why it’s important to obey the government)
3. Read how companies intend to use your child’s information
4. Decide how much consent you want to give. Understand the information companies collect versus the information they share with others.
5. Talk to your kids and set family rules for online computer use. Guidelines and talking points are available at http://milc.ms/coppatalk.
Read more about protecting your child’s privacy at the following sites: http://milc.ms/coppakids.
- Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online
- FTC Strengthens Kids’ Privacy, Gives Parents Greater Control Over Their Information By Amending Childrens Online Privacy Protection Rule
- New Legal Requirements for Your Child’s Privacy