How can Kids be Expected to Understand Them?
Growing up Digital STUDY
Now what about all those kids and teens on-line? Just like most adults, most are not reviewing legal terms before signing up for an account or sharing their personal information on social media or other sites. And they certainly aren’t asking their parents to review those terms for them. But even if they attempt to review them, do sites that are popular destinations for young people feature terms that are accessible? According to a new report from the Children’s Commissioner in England, entitled “Growing up Digital”, many terms presented to young people are overwhelming and impossible to understand. The task force set up for the year long study included experts from the public and private sector. The group found that more than a third of Internet users are younger than 18, with 12 to 15 year olds spending more than 20 hours a week online.
“You are responsible for any activity that occurs through your account and you agree you will not sell, transfer, license or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights. With the exception of people or businesses that are expressly authorized to create accounts on behalf of their employers or clients, Instagram prohibits the creation of and you agree that you will not create an account for anyone other than yourself. You also represent that all information you provide or provided to Instagram upon registration and at all other times will be true, accurate, current and complete and you agree to update your information as necessary to maintain its truth and accuracy.”
The task force then asked the same group of children and teenagers to read the simplified terms and found that not only were they much better understood, but many youngsters were surprised about how their personal information could be used by Instagram.
Many other websites and social media services similarly provide very little coherent information on exercising one’s privacy rights. Instagram was a great choice for this study because of its high appeal to young people – individuals who should be given the opportunity to understand their rights and how they may be limited by the services they are signing up for.
The “Growing up Digital” report was a stellar initiative because children are especially vulnerable when it comes to on-line privacy. More transparent and straightforward policies and terms encourages young people to read and understand them, and thus truly provide informed consent. By engaging in discussions with parents and other adults about on-line privacy, kids can become a more educated on-line audience, and over time, we may even see consumer pressure from kids and teens for better privacy practices.