By Shannon Fitzgibbon

What is it? What does it do?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) works to regulate how online data and information regarding one’s child is gathered and handled. COPPA has therefore given some authority to parents and guardians in regards to their child’s online data mining. Furthermore, the COPPA Rule adds extra restrictions and guidelines for online platforms to adhere to in order to further protect the information of children under the age of 13.

Is it effective?

Well, in order to ensure one’s business or online platform continues to be on the internet in the United States, they need to abide by the regulations outlined in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Any website directed at, or even including material directed at children under 13 must inform users and parents/guardians of the data collection. However, some websites altogether have banned users or accounts for anyone under the age of 13. This is why on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, a birth date is required to finish registration onto the individual sites. If your birthday were to indicate an age younger than 13, then you would not be permitted access onto the site. Many online platforms generate revenue through the solicitation of information gathered from social media, so, in order to continue to profit off of all users, they need to collect from all users.

Now, as many users deemed “too young” to use these websites or social platforms can attest to, a simple forgery of date of birth (as mentioned above), can allow users to bypass the regulations set forth by both COPPA and the website. Furthermore, some parents remain even unaware still due to the careful placement of the given consent to data collection. This is why it is imperative to read the “Terms and Conditions” to use websites and to carefully consider signing away the rights to your child’s information and privacy online.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why might websites not allow children under 13 years old to use them?
  2. Is data and information collection something both you and your child are comfortable with happening?
  3. How many apps on your phone or programs on your computer are actively collecting data about you or your child?

For further analysis as to how to protect children online, and other legislation, review How To Keep Kids Safe While Remote Learning.


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