Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape

Privacy and Security and Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing

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danah boyd, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey


Response to FCC Notice of Inquiry 0994, February 24, 2010. FCC, 74 FR 61308, November 24, 2009.


This document looks at ideas to protect children from dangers arising from their use of new media technologies.

Policy Relevance

Regulators should consider real data about how kids use new technologies to improve online safety.

Main Points

  • Those concerned that children will use new media such as the Internet unsafely either seek to educate children and parents to improve safety, or restrict children’s access to new media altogether.
  • Many responses are based on fear, rather than real data about risks. For example, sexual encounters with adults online are not as common as feared.
  • Concerns include privacy, copyright infringement, the quality of online content, the distraction of multi-tasking, sexual encounters online, and online bullying.
  • Not all young people enjoy the same level and quality of access to digital media.
  • Children and their parents can have trouble finding quality content that is appropriate for their age group. The organization Common Sense Media can help by rating different content.
    • Regulators can help by collecting information about whether ratings are consistent and accurate.
  • Kids do take some measures to protect their privacy online.
    • Social networks like Facebook should use default settings that protect privacy, so that inexperienced users do not accidentally reveal information.
    • The “notice and choice” model of privacy is ineffective.
  • Parents might not be aware that filters used to reduce their kid’s exposure to violent or sexually explicit online content do not work well. Kids can enjoy evading the filters.
  • Kids will prefer to use search tools and other technologies made for adults, not those just for kids. 

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