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Yes, Apple, Google, and Facebook will think about the children
Tech giants sign on to committe for children’s safety online, but parents aren’t on board yet.
Apple, Google, and Facebook are among 28 technology and media companies that have signed on to the European Commission’s working group to promote Internet safety for children.
But the laudable move to drum up corporate support leaves out the most important players in children’s lives: their parents.
The coalition of companies ranging from phone manufacturers to broadcasters “should provide both children and parents with transparent and consistent protection tools to make the most of the online world,” Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president, wrote in a blog post. “The founding coalition members are already leaders in children’s safety online. Working together we will be setting the pace for the whole industry and have a great basis for fully empowering children online.”
The group’s statement of purpose covers five areas, including simple reporting tools, age-appropriate privacy settings, wider use of content classification, increased parental controls and quick removal of material consider abusive to children. The coalition is looking for new members among other companies doing business in Europe, where more than a third of kids between the ages of nine and 12 have social networking profiles despite age restrictions.
Online reaction to the coalition has been muted so far, with most just posting links to news articles reporting the announcement. A blog commenter, however, did ask why the coalition didn’t consider including parents in a response left on Kroes’s blog post.
“Sounds like great news, but in the spirit of the Internet, shouldn’t individuals (parents, teachers, kids themselves) be involved in this process too?” Caroline I of International Parents wrote. “Maybe they can also come up with ideas and solutions, as well as help spread the word on how to make Internet use safe for children and teens.”
Photo by zoethustra
Dave Copeland is a tech reporter whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and ReadWrite. He teaches journalism at Bridgewater State University.