[iDC] Why Parents Help Children Violate Facebook's 13+ Rule

Tony Fish - AMF Ventures tony.fish at amfventures.com
Mon Nov 7 14:28:38 UTC 2011

Lynn - thanks I enjoyed your insights and contributions 
As a mobile phone stat - over half of kids in western EU and US under 13 now
have a personal mobile and they use it as a place where we don't have
control.  There are now 5.8bn mobile phone subscriptions (equil to 80% of
population) and only 4.7bn people with toothbrushes.  Mobile is the first
and in many cases the only experience of the web.
Agree that nothing replaces the need for parents to parent, but we appear to
have lost the balance of rights and responsibilies.....
Best, Tony www.mydigitalfootprint.com

-----Original Message-----
From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net]
On Behalf Of Lynn Clark
Sent: 07 November 2011 13:31
To: idc at mailman.thing.net
Subject: Re: [iDC] Why Parents Help Children Violate Facebook's 13+ Rule

This has been a very interesting discussion.  I've been doing ethnographic
work with high schoolers in lower income families and have data that support
both the boyd et al. survey and Mark Andrejevic's points.  

I agree with danah that parents aren't very concerned about tracking
(although many of us in the scholarly community believe they should be).
Still, I'm not in favor of the lowering or removal of COPPA's age
restrictions, or even of having Facebook et al. remove their "no one under
13" policy.  Yes, parents feel that their views are more valid than those of
the government's, but the "no one under 13"  policy does create a moment for
intervention, e.g., it becomes a point of discussion between child and
parent that's valuable, even if both decide that the child is "mature"
enough for violating the policy.  Getting on Facebook and "at what age
should my child get a cell phone?" seem to be two key questions of the tween
years, not just among children and parents but among parents within their
own social circles.  Getting rid of the COPPA age-based restrictions, then,
could effectively remove an important moment at which parents want the media
literacy you want to provide. And whereas I totally agree that we need to
educate parents about media, it's also the case that parents will probably
always be two steps behind youth culture, as that's the nature of youth
culture.  E.g., I remember Jackie Marsh commenting in her work on Club
Penguin that most parents first found out about the site when their kids
asked to be on it.  So I think there's a place for legislation and policy
that precedes rather than follows parental knowledge and addresses concerns
about the childhood commercial environment that are not quite articulated in
terms of the specifics of online tracking and surveillance, but are clearly
out in the discourse (witness the popularity of Juliet Schor's Born to Buy

The last sentence of the article raises two points: abandon age-based
mechanisms, and devise new solutions "that help limit when, where, and how
data are used."  I agree that it would be nice if we could limit tracking
for all ages, but I think it's worth recognizing that people feel that
children deserve greater protection than adults, as Mark Andrejevic argues.
If scholars advocated 'no tracking for kids under 13,' that might then
trigger a different discussion: at what age do we as adults want to say,
'sure, Facebook can own my data?'  Or, "Facebook can own my kid's data after
13 but not before."  I'd like to see more of that kind of discussion in our
media literacy efforts.  Our challenge is to change the parental concern
from that of stalkers to the commercially supported media environment.

One final point: as this survey was an online opt-in, it's important to
recognize that it represents those online, not "all" parents.   I had to
keep reminding myself of that when reading it, as even with the weighting we
can see that lower income and lower education groups are underrepresented.
I'm finding a lot more concern about surveillance among lower income
families (not surprisingly, the concerns are framed as government not
corporate surveillance).  Can someone point me to who might be doing survey
research among this population?

 Lynn Schofield Clark, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dir Graduate Studies, & Director, Estlow International
Center for Journalism & New Media
Dept of Media, Film, & Journalism Studies
University of Denver
2490 S. Gaylord St. 
Denver, CO  80208
phone: (303) 871-3984
email: Lynn.Clark at du.edu

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