Terms of Use, Readability, and Digital Kids

Check the terms of use readability level at your favorite sites.

Just about every time I head over to iTunes to purchase something, I’m all set to finish up when the site diverts me to a change in the terms of use. It happens at lots of sites.  And each time I click to look at a site’s terms of use, it’s a longer document — 40 pages, 41, 42… Now I don’t object to changes or even insisting that users check things out, but terms of use are abstract and arcane and not especially easy to read or even understand.

I’ve always thought it would be an interesting conversation topic for parents and kids — taking a few minutes to look at those terms of use statements that most people accept and go right by, and helping children discover a bit about the fine print.

About eight months ago, I read a posting about terms of use documents, C’mon! Match Terms of Use Text to Users’ Comprehension Level, written by Linda Criddle over at the I look Both Ways blog.

Criddle described her experience examining terms of use documents posted on well-known and popular websites. She looked over the terms of use documents for the sites such as the New York Times, Amazon, iPhone, Club Penguin. Then she ran each document through a readability index – a tool that examines a passage and estimates how easy or hard it will be for a person to read the words, as well as what level of education the reader might need to comprehend the information. Continue reading

Do Your Kids Take Online Surveys and Quizzes?

A Quick Google Search for Quizzes

For sometime now I’ve considered writing a post on the problems with web surveys and quizzes. These tricky techniques use old-fashioned fun, emulating the magazine quiz features of the past and encouraging web users to happily divulge all sorts of personal information. Each of these activities is a small privacy invader using a “have fun and learn more” guise.

Instead of writing more on this subject here on MediaTech Parenting, I suggest your head over to visit the I Look Both Ways blog, where Linda Criddle has posted Online Quizzes and Surveys and the Real Risks These Represent. Linda’s post offers a comprehensive overview of the subject along with supplemental images.

Continue reading