How can I control my child’s social media use? | Technology | The Guardian

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The British government sets a minimum age for some things, such as drinking, driving and voting. It doesn’t have a minimum age for online activities. According to Ofcom (2015), 67% of five to seven year olds, 91% of eight to 11 year olds and 98% of 12 to 15 year olds use online services, and there are “walled garden” services – Moshi Monsters, Disney Club Penguin, CBeebies – that target much younger users than your son. The government recognises the risks of being online, but still hasn’t implemented roughly half the recommendations in Dr Tanya Byron’s report, Safer Children in a Digital World, released 10 years ago. And as she has just pointed out at the NSPCC, Instagram, SnapChat and WhatsApp didn’t even exist in 2008. As things stand, most social networks and email services are American, and they work to an American law known as the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (Coppa). Free services make money by profiling users for advertising purposes. Coppa requires verified parental consent (VPC) for the collection of personal information about children under 13. It’s simpler and cheaper for services to ban under 13s, and remove any it finds, than to obtain that consent. Instagram has a removal form. The European Union, which strives for better privacy protection, tried to increase the age requirement to 16. However, after lobbying, the EU decided to allow individual countries to set their own age of consent and, as you would expect, the UK opted out. As a result, the UK is governed by the American law as implemented by Facebook, Instagram and the rest. Read All Comments:

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