Monday, May 09, 2011

Protection of older minors is more about privacy now than content -- and implicates whole family

Cecilia Kang has an important front page story in The Washington Post on May 9, “With quick click, teens online part with privacy; some experts say adolescents’ information needs special protection”, link (website url) here

The article reflects a shift in emphasis from protecting tweens and even older minors (sometimes) from inappropriate content, to protecting privacy.  Teens often give away family information when signing up for mobile aps as well as well-known social networking sites.  In some families’ circumstances, telling a family phone number or address or even personal whereabouts could put other family members in jeopardy. There is also a shift in emphasis from protecting the privacy of the youngest minors to that of teens, which has a bigger potential impact on a whole family.

The article also says that most people do not have fully developed reasoning abilities – to see around corners and anticipate long term consequences of actions – until their thirties, not even the mid twenties.  Given the success of some people well before 30, that’s hard to see.

The other big concern of consequences is “online reputation” – that employers could look at Tweets, blog posts, Facebook profiles, or even Mobile behavior – of young adults as applicants and employees – in an era when the ethical aspects of doing so have not yet been worked out. 

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