How Do You Protect Your Kids' Privacy Online?

Currently kids under the age of 13 are prohibited from Facebook and other sites that collect personal user data because the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents sites that collect personal user data to allow these young kids to sign up. Mark Zuckerberg thinks there are educational benefits to getting pre-tweens on his social network and wants to repeal this restriction. This brings up issues of privacy and safety for young people, begging the question: how do you protect your kids privacy online?

Obviously kids can sign up for Facebook by falsifying their age, so Zuckerberg's success in his campaign to repeal or revise COPPA may or may not have a major impact. Maybe you're a parent or your parents just raised you really well. Whatever the case may be, in your experience what are some of the best ways to protect a child's privacy online? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook [CNN Money]


    Maybe not so much privacy as filtering but I do the following...

    Set up an account with OpenDNS

    Change router settings to new DNS settings

    I'm fourteen and my parents do very little to monitor my online social activities, however that is mainly because they know that i am extremely responsible when it comes to social networking, they know, that I know a lot more in the topic, and can trust my judgement. I have security on my Facebook page, but I'm not an idiot, I know this can be hacked, so I never post anything on there that I really would care about if anybody saw it anyway.
    Beleive for a lot of my peers however, this is not the case, and some of them either really do need the parental supervision, or on the other end of the spectrum, there parents really need to lighten up a little.

    I'd love to know what these "educational" benefits of facebook are. Anyone know? I can't think of any.

    In regards to COPPA, I think its a great idea - in theory - but sometimes its kinda silly. As mentioned in the article, its so easy to just lie about your age. And sometimes its a bit silly what you have to do to get your child an account somewhere. When my son was about 8 he wanted a neopets account. Because he was under 13 I would have had to jump through hoops that involved downloading forms and faxing/mailing them to Neopets in order for him to be allowed to have one. (I don't know if that is still the case.) I think most people faced with that kind of thing would just sign their kid up for an acount and lie about their age.

    My son is 13 now, and he can sign up for accounts almost anywhere, but he is pretty responsible about it and talks to me first. He has learned about net safety - both through school and through me - he knows what information he shouldn't share online.

    I think though the best way for kids to be secure is for parents to be aware of what they are doing. You don't need to monitor them 24/7 but you do need to pay attention and TALK with them about what they are doing online. Communication and education.

    Education, education, education and trust in your parenting, did I mention education?

    My daughter's 11 years old and she has her own netbook. We have historically had very few trust problems with her, so up until about 6-12 months ago we had zero parental controls on her surfing. She was good about only going to sites she knew, but this became a problem when one of those sites linked (through ads) to Girls Go Games, which in turn linked (through ads) to a site targeted at slightly older girls, repeat and rinse two or three more times and wammo! Hardcore porn videos. She had no idea what was going on, but was curious, so kept going back to these video sites for a bit over a week until I finally found out.

    Since then we've installed Windows 7 across all our computers, and on her netbook I've installed Microsoft's "Family Safety Service". It lets me filter her netbook's websites. If something gets blocked by the service, she can click a button to ask for my permission to visit that site. I can also manually add sites to her Allow or Block lists. It also provides an activity report, showing all the sites she has visited. I think it's a really good free service.

    Since it's been installed, she hasn't attempted to access any inappropriate sites at all; that probably is more a result of her getting busted for watching those videos than of me installing the FSS filter. But hey, whatever works. :)


    a word of advice; don't come down harshly on your kids if you find they've signed up for facebook or something without asking you, it won't make it better, it will only send them the message that they can't tell you about anything. trust me, I'm a teenager, we're not too great in the logic department...

    Check out this cool animation that teaches about online privacy hazards:

    If my understanding is correct, COPA doesn't prevent Facebook from allowing under 13s but it regulates that websites that sell data about users must ensure parental consent to protect privacy rather than security for children.(which most websites have simply determined is too onerous and simply added a lower age limit to their site). Within the framework of COPA, Facebook could make their site available with extra work, so it seems to me like Zuckerberg is looking for an easy fix so they can get more users rather than put in the extra work so they can have younger users on the site.
    There's an interesting post about this on the Zephoria blog

    Hi There

    Just wondering if anybody can shed light on whether Copa applies to Australia or what are the Australian laws for children? We are creating an online forum that requires juniors to register. We want registration for anybody wanting to post a topic to be able to ban anyone being rude. Just not sure where to find info on the registration laws?

    Any advice would be great.

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