Posted in acceptable use, digital parenting, family conversations, media literacy, parents and technology

Terms of Use — How Much Can You Read?

I often write about parent-child conversations. We parents initiate these chats all the time, concentrating on this issue or that, and encouraging our children to participate, respond, or even disagree. When the talks focus on digital issues they can be enjoyable or arduous, or anything in-between. The fun but still educational conversations, however, only come along from time-to-time.

So the other day, when I read a posting by Linda Criddle over at the I look Both Ways blog, I became excited because kids will love the discussion on this topic — whether at home or school — and they will learn a lot in the process.

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.

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Posted in acceptable use, digital citizenship, digital parenting, parents and technology

On Websites, What Age is the Right Age?

Is it OK for your child to visit a site with age restrictions, register, and then fib about his or her age?

Recently at my nearby public library I overheard a conversation between two parents. Discussing a fairly well-known website and its age requirements, one parent commented that she was not letting her child use the site because the rules said users must be 13, and her child was not yet 13. The other parent, whose child was in the same grade, thought that the age limits were ridiculous, so she allows her child to sign up and pretend to be age 13. “We are just fudging a bit,” she said (laughed).

My question — is this just fudging, or is a parent sending a message that it is OK to put false data into website information blanks? It’s tricky, because kids eagerly learn things that we don’t intend for them to learn. Even if we think a rule is silly, do we really want to encourage our children to break the rules that they think are silly? Are there other alternatives?

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