How old were you when you first used the internet?

The lives children have today is incredibly different to what mine was. So I can’t imagine how our parents must feel.

There is no more playing in the parks. No more reconstructing the living room furniture in order to avoid the ‘lava’. There is no more fighting with your sibling to choose which one of the five channels you will be watching on the TV.

It is sad really, but as the digital world progressively enhanced daily, children cannot just be kept from this. They are born into this technological world so it would only make sense for technology to be a fundamental part of their daily lives.

However, while giving them access to these devices, it means that children’s digital footsteps may be followed. Therefore, businesses may collect children’s data and parents may publish children’s images and information online.

Children are the most vulnerable beings. They do not quite understand the consequences of being online so protecting their privacy and interests online is crucial.

Child with iPad
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Children’s Rights

As I touched upon a couple of weeks ago when talking about privacy on the internet and the Data Protection Act (DPA), they have put in codes in which will protect our privacy. But even if protecting online privacy for adults is hard, imagine how complicated it is for children. With a third of internet users being under the age of 18, it more important than ever that children are looked after.

There are a number of laws protecting children’s privacy. One of the most important is Article 16 in the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. This states that no child shall have interference with their privacy.

However, under the new DPA, children as young as 13 are now allowed to consent their information just like adults. This is a good thing as now children are able to use the internet freely, but with children being so vulnerable it is a struggle for them to understand all the hidden dangers that they may face online.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was bought into action in 2012. It means that websites that collect information on children under 13 need to follow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC determines whether a website is suitable for children by reviewing what type of content is on the website and its intended audience.

Children’s Toys

For many kids, getting a new toy at Christmas or their birthday is such an exciting time. And for parents giving them new toys would make them think that their child is out of harm, but sometimes this is not the case.

Some smart toys that are meant for learning or for innocent are actually creating privacy problems. Hackers usually target kids in order to give credit card information or give other information vital to scam people. Kids are naive to what they are sharing so make them easy targets to go for.

Girl with Social Media
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Kids and Social Media

With new location trackers being put on apps such as Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, kids are revealing their exact locations without even realising.

The huge problem with social media is that they cannot truly track the ages of their users. For many social media sites, 13 is the youngest that you are allowed to be a user, and the children’s online privacy protection rule is there to safeguard children when using the internet.

Currently my Facebook states I was born in 1900, and I can assure you a 119-year-old is not writing this blog. I first got Facebook at 12 when the rule is you must be 13 or older. This makes it impossible to know the ages of users without making a hassle for users when they sign up. This then will make less people sign up and make the social media site become unpopular.

However, although we would like to control it, it’s hard as it is revealed that the average time a 8 to 12 year old spends on the internet is around six hours a day.

Parents and Social Media

With social media sites such as Facebook, they are heavily populated now by the older generation. Younger people mainly go to Facebook or snapchat and that is because of how many users on Facebook are older.

One concern with this is that parents are the ones who are actually less aware than teenagers of social media. Parents are not as knowledgeable as teenagers as they grew up with social media so are more aware.

The concept of ‘sharenting’ is the idea of parents sharing

And this brings concerns about sharing photos of children on the internet.

Once an image is posted online is can stay there forever and parents sometimes forget that. They may think a picture is cute or a video is funny but when that child is older, they may not want in plastered all over social media.

And this is a concept hard to manage as children cannot control what their parents post on social media,. This is especially true when they are a lot younger and don’t have social media to be aware of what their parents are posting about them.

Next Week

Although children are the most vulnerable people when being online, they aren’t the most exposed. Celebrities battle invasions of privacy every single day. So next week I am going to look into the difficulties of being a celebrity in the digital world and argue whether their lack of privacy is going too far…or argue whether they signed up to this when they became celebrities.

So, enjoy your weekend and remember, stay cyber safe.

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