Information Technology and Ethics/Privacy and Children

Importance of Privacy for Children

Children are using technology and the internet at higher rates than ever before due to technology’s increased accessibility. Similar to adults, children use the internet and technology to play online video games, chat with friends, use social media, research, watch TV or movies, and more! However, with all of the use of the internet, there is more opportunity for children to expose information about themselves that they might not intend. Additionally, parents may not be fully aware of all their childrens’ online activity. Not many parents have conversations with their children about cybersafety and privacy on the internet because they themselves may not understand the risk and consequences. Children are now at equal risk as adults for being traced by profit-seeking advertisers, cybercriminals, and even bullies.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. Data storage for minors are really strict because children’s information is deemed as extremely sensitive information. But even still, minors are on social media platforms that actively collect and store data for all users! Children need to be vigilant when talking to strangers online and what they post online. There are additional risks that come with being a child on the internet such as naivety, increased vulnerability due to an undeveloped frontal lobe, and then being a target of sexual exploitation or other child endangerment. Privacy awareness is key to protecting children from financial disaster, stalking, and exploitation by corporations and other types of businesses. Children face the same consequences as adults when it comes to breached privacy. Some of these issues include not understanding privacy policies by different websites and companies, exposure of information that is not intended to a wide audience.

Solutions for Privacy Issues related to Children

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection act was enacted in April 2000 to help address the problem of children's vulnerability to privacy breach on the internet. The law applies to the online collection of data for those under the age of 13 years old for United States jurisdictions. It provides websites information about how to handle privacy policies, when and how to seek parental/guardian consent on behalf of a child, and “what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing of those under 13.”

Cybersecurity and privacy education for children is a must when it comes to protecting children online and making sure they understand what they can and cannot share. Additionally, it is important that children understand that anything and everything they do online is likely to follow them. Key studies indicate that there are significant effects of using quiz and educational video to enhance best online safety beliefs and restrict online sharing. Additionally, the role of perceived parental influence are important to children and agencies that offer privacy education campaigns to help empower children to protect their privacy are beneficial.