#PrivacyDebate- Children & Social Media

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Photo by Sam Howzit

Social networks and privacy debates are not strangers. Many have been debating factors for years. One area that has pretty much been deemed understood was children under the age of 13. Due to federal regulations dating back to 1998, social networks do not permit children under the age of 13 to sign up, with few exceptions. However, this hasn’t stopped more and more youth from signing up and lying about their age.

Facebook recently declared the regulations are outdated and in effect lobbying for its removal. This raises many questions about the data that networks collect and the public awareness of privacy implications. See our highlights:
1. Children can be taught about privacy to use social networks.
Social networks can be educational and with proper oversight and education, children could safely use social networks. Ironically, children can just as aware- or more so- of privacy implications as adults. Utilizing social media in the classroom and incorporating it within education can help with educating regarding privacy practices.

2. Families should consider setting up social media policies.
Companies take the time to establish social media policies; families should take the same precautions and measures, albeit for different reasons. By establishing as a family how they should utilizing social media and proper interactions, families can help ensure proper privacy protections are in place.

3. Regulations should be refined.
Technology quickly changes, and laws put in place in more than 10 years ago may not be as relevant. A method of updating regulation to make them more applicable to the current issues or changes that have evolved. The other option is to look at more flexible regulations that are built to grow as technology grows.

At the end, most didn’t have strong feelings on whether Facebook should lobby to repeal the 1998 Act but did feel that children need stronger education and protection overall- along with the general public.

Thanks to all who shared your opinion, and keep adding to the discussion below! Let us know if you have a topic you’d like to debate by sharing here or at #SMWDebates.

Nicky Yates

Director of Communications, Social Media Week

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