Child Protection Online

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Among the many interesting sessions held on Thursday, conference attendees discussed child protection online. The video of this session will be available next week, but we include some highlights below:

Rough notes from the presentation by Valerie Steeves, professor at the University of Ottawa:

  • There are increasingly deep levels of intimacy between marketers and children – there’s a thin line between content and commerce
  • By opening up child’s private world of play, marketers hope to steer their reactions – by embedding commercial values in a child’s social world
  • The crux of the system rests on surveillance

“There’s no way to sugar coat this. In order to learn more about individual consumers, marketers have to resort to ‘spying'” – Rob Graham, Rob (2006) Fishing from a Barrel – Using Targeting to Reach the Right People with the Right Ads at the Right Time

  • All the major children’s playsites comply with data protection laws – in fact they all market themselves as champions of children’s privacy
  • From a human rights perspective, privacy is rooted in dignity and autonomy – as human rights advocates we all need to get past data, security and consent
  • We need to start to look at the impact of invasive technologies on how children experience the concepts of privacy in their own lives
  • In these children’s sites, the pervasive market research invades privacy – seamless surveillance – colonizing their play – constraining the identities available to them – recasting things like citizenship, friendship, autonomy, choice and control within the framework of the marketplace
  • This is the context in which kids are making their decisions about online privacy
  • Policy makers think kids don’t care about online privacy
  • As we explore the research in all these disciplines – we will see a very very different picture

From Leslie Regan Shade, professor at Concordia University:

  • Kids care about their privacy, they care about a lot of issues about relationship privacy – especially what other kids think
  • They care about the presentation of themselves online
  • Very interesting sense of privacy – they want to control their image, want to control what they look like
  • Are very concerned of people who they don’t know in a social network, people who have tagged them in a photo
  • They care if the photo is unappealing or depicts them in a situation they do not what their mother to see
  • Their grossest thing for kids now is for their parents to be on a Facebook – I’m being stalked!
  • Care deeply about their privacy, among small personal networks which are now being extended in digital spaces
  • Interesting blurriness between public and private and kids think that what they are doing on these public spaces are private but it’s not.
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