From firsthand experience, I can tell you that it’s very difficult not to simply succumb to the pressures of letting your tween have an account on an adult-intended social network like Facebook. Most of their friends probably have one—in fact, their friends’ younger siblings probably have one. But does that justify giving in?
That’s the question I asked myself after reading Christina Tynan-Wood’s article, How Much Privacy Does My Kid Give Up in an Hour?, on Common Sense Media’s website. If you read the article, you’ll see that Christina isn’t your “average parent” raising her daughter in the digital world that we live in today. She’s a tech guru who has written articles for a number of tech magazines, including PC Magazine, Popular Science and PC World.
The bulk of Christina’s article lets readers know that she’s fully aware of how behavioral advertising works on the Internet, and how all of her daughter’s clicks are tracked one way or another and then sold to advertising/marketing firms. However, she doesn’t want her daughter to feel left out (what parent does?), and after hearing things like “You’re ruining my life” and “I’m the only kid in my class not on Facebook”, Christina eventually does what many parents have done….she gives in.
Now, before I state my questions and concerns, let me be clear that I applaud Christina for being as vigilant as she is when it comes to her daughter’s online privacy. She’s hyper aware of what information is being collected about her daughter, and makes it easy for many parents, who may not be as savvy, to understand the privacy issues we all should. Based on what she wrote, however, I’m not sure she did her research on the alternative kid-focused social networks that comply with COPPA, a law that’s designed to protect her daughter’s online privacy.
Though there are plenty of these sites out there, Yoursphere, for example, gives tweens like Christina’s daughter the ability to network in an age-appropriate online community. At the same time, member activity isn’t tracked in Yoursphere, and personally identifiable information is never required to join nor is requested to set up a profile, so Christina wouldn’t have to worry about her daughter’s information being sold to marketing and advertising firms, nor would she have to worry about interest-based advertising being served to her daughter while she’s playing games or chatting with friends.
Yoursphere Sign Up Page
Kid Profile Setup Page
So my question is, is she aware of alternatives like Yoursphere? And if so, why hasn’t she encouraged her daughter to join a network intended just for her daughter, instead of one for adults? I’m going to guess the answer is: because her daughter’s friends aren’t yet members of Yoursphere. While 87% of Yoursphere memberships are initiated by kids (and 13% by parents), I plan on asking her these questions, and I’ll keep you updated here on this article.
For you, my question is: What would you do if you were in Christina’s shoes? Knowing what she knows, would you give into the pressure?
As always, I’d love to know what you think so please share your thoughts.