On Tuesday, the 10th anniversary of Google going
public it ended with a valuation of $397bn and it signalled that it's not yet
ready to rest on its laurels with several media outlets reporting that it
planned to allow children as young as 13 to open online accounts. Meanwhile, The
San Jose Mercury News, the daily newspaper of the city of San José - - the
biggest urban area in the Silicon Valley region -- has an AP story that an
increasing number of parents are opting for a baby blackout on Facebook by
consciously keeping their children's photos, names and entire identities off the
Children have for long been seen as a key target market for consumer products
See this New York Times investigative
report from 2013:
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
The Wall Street Journal says that accounts on
Google services such as Gmail and YouTube are not officially offered to
children, though there is little to stop them from logging on anonymously or
posing as adults to sign up for accounts.
"Now Google is trying to establish a new system that lets parents set up
accounts for their kids, control how they use Google services and what
information is collected about their offspring, according to a person familiar
with the effort.
Earlier this year, Google was developing a child version of its online video
site YouTube suited to tablet computers that would let parents control content,
another person familiar with the company’s plans said.
Google and most other Internet companies tread carefully because of the
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. The [US] law imposes strict
limits on how information about children under 13 is collected; it requires
parents’ consent and tightly controls how that data can be used for advertising.
(Companies are not liable if customers lie to them about user ages)."
The Mercury News story
says: [A big reason parents are wary, even if they use social media sites
themselves, is that the companies "have not been very transparent about the way
they collect data about users," says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the
nonprofit Common Sense Media, which studies children's use of technology.
"Facebook's terms of service and privacy (policies) -- no one reads it, it's too
Some parents look back to their own childhoods, when they were able to make
mistakes without evidence of those blunders living on --forever-- online.]