Loopholes in Social Media Age Restrictions, Privacy Policies and Stranger Danger for Young Children Online
Change today occurs at breakneck speed; there is always too much to cope with and you’re always behind schedule on something. Nobody has the time or inclination to actually read the Terms of Services and Privacy Policies of the hundreds of websites and apps they use. Even if we tried, we wouldn’t be able to fathom the ramifications of what we’re agreeing to expose ourselves and our children to. That’s exactly what the endless pages of vague legalese are meant to do: trick you into allowing internet-based corporate giants to abuse your data.
Recent events like the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal finally highlighted the predatory, nefarious details of hitherto inconspicuous Terms of Service and Privacy Policies on the internet. Governments across the world have jerked into action too, with the European Union signing off on regulations that force companies on the internet to make their intentions clear, intelligible and obvious to elicit informed consent from their users.
It is well beyond time for us all to wake up and smell the rat; governments cannot protect us if we choose to be reckless. Agreeing to share private data without knowing what it might be used for, or in other words, ticking the “I Agree” box without knowing the relevant terms and policies, is the definition of being reckless. The most terrifying part of this, though, is not about us. It’s about our children.
Children usually mimic what we do, which in this case means ticking the “I Agree” box without a second thought. It’s terrifying to think of the threat such recklessness poses to the safety of our children online. Given the sheer magnitude of the internet itself, it’s safe to say that no parents’ guide to internet safety can be foolproof, although many are available on the internet. However, some common sense media safety guidelines can go a long way in teaching your kids to protect themselves from obvious threats on social media.
You may be tempted to believe that the rules and regulations put in place to prevent such things can actually work. Unfortunately, social media age restrictions are a joke in the face of regulations that require users to be above a certain age to access their services. The only evidence they need to ascertain a user’s age is the user’s own word. Fine print on websites like these holds users responsible if they get into trouble for accessing certain services under false pretexts. This means that if your underaged child is stalked, kidnapped, or exploited in any manner by someone they met online, the website that facilitated it cannot be held responsible. Moreover, your child could be held liable for providing false information and misguiding. They may choose not to pursue any such charges, but it is legally possible to do that.
In this kind of a scenario, the most important rule is for you as a parent to keep an eye on your child’s usage of the internet and social media, but not without their consent. It is important for your children to understand why you watching over their internet usage is good while others doing the same is not okay. Read some relevant articles providing information about cybersecurity, explain the threats to your kids and elaborate specifically on the dangers of talking to strangers online via portals like TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and many others where it is easy to fake an identity. It is important for your children to understand why you watching over their internet usage is for their own good while others doing the same is potentially dangerous. You can also read Is TikTok Safe For Kids?
Here’s a brief summary of common sense guidelines about internet safety for kids and how to keep your children safe online. We hope this helps you and your family stay safe in an increasingly disturbing world.