Public supports updating federal laws that require internet safety standards to protect kids

Published on November 20, 2012 at 12:37 AM · 1 Comment

The Internet is full of information, but also full of real risks for children, like online predators or the pitfalls of losing privacy when kids share too much information. In a new University of Michigan poll, the majority of the public supports updating federal laws that require Internet safety standards to protect kids.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health recently asked adults nationwide about Internet use and proposed changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA.

COPPA was enacted to protect young children from some of these Internet dangers by prohibiting collection of personal information through websites if the user is under age 13. But COPPA was written in 1998, before the dawn of smartphones, applications and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering updating COPPA to reflect technology advances in the past decade.

The poll found that two-thirds of adults think children should be at least 13 years old to use the Internet on their own. But 29 percent of the parents with children age 9 to 12 said their children have their own handheld Wi-Fi enabled devices, which may mean children are online and unsupervised.

Although social networking sites like Facebook restrict access to users under age 13, 18% of parents polled said their children age 9-12 have their own social networking profile.

So it's not surprising that adults think COPPA needs updating, says Matthew M. Davis M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

"For parents, COPPA may be the most important piece of federal legislation you've never heard of," said Davis, who is also associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

"So much has changed in the 14 years since COPPA was enacted: Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, along with applications. This report underscores the concerns among the general public to make sure proper safeguards are enacted to protect kids."

The Federal Trade Commission has suggested updating COPPA to reflect technology advances in the past decade, and this fall sought comments on proposed revisions.

In the poll, most adults expressed strong support for the proposed updates. The poll found that 60 percent of adults expressed strong support for prohibiting websites and applications designed for kids from collecting personal information of children under age 13.

The respondents showed similarly strong support to require websites and apps  to ask users to confirm they are at least 13 years old and to require cell phone service providers and app developers to comply with COPPA regulations for users under age 13.

"Updating COPPA is a start, but parents must realize the digital landscape is continually evolving," says Davis. "It is important that parents play a key role in protecting their children online. With so many young children using the Internet every day, parents must talk to their kids about Internet safety and help teach them to identify and avoid dangerous situations."

Source:

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health

Posted in: Child Health News | Healthcare News

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Comments
  1. Liam Conaglen Liam Conaglen New Zealand says:

    Well I'm glad to hear some positive result from government organisations, but the real work comes to Parents , caregivers, and nieghbourhood groups. Through petitioning online servers and the government further to protect those children who are being exploited on the internet. These kids are in danger of on going abuse that amounts to nothing more than slavery, everyone online must be diligent in how society accepts free browsing on the internet. It's not necessarily that the child of thirteen is to young to browse online, it's what society moraly accepts as suitable viewing for everyone, that's races , creeds, and gender. We can help simply by being more aware of what is available online, and in some casses reporting it to the relevant authorities and by being more open to talk about this insidious disease that is plaguing us into the modern day era and social media.

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