A Parent's Guide to Online Privacy Protection Rules and Internet Safety

The Internet can be a great tool to help kids and teens learn, play, and communicate with their friends and family. However, it can also be a dangerous place for children. There are a lot of threats and risks online that can hurt kids, like cyberbullies, identity theft, predators, adult content, and malware. All of these can have a big impact on a kid's safety and their mental health. That's why it's so important for parents to protect their kids from online dangers. Parents should be aware of the risks, teach their kids about Internet safety, keep an eye on their kids online, and limit their kids' access to potentially harmful materials. Website owners also need to do their part to keep younger Internet users safe.

In 1998, Congress passed the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law that ensures that websites and online services don't collect, use, or share personal information from kids under 13. That includes things like names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, pictures, videos, and audio files. For any website or service specifically designed for children or knowingly gathering personal information from children, it is a requirement to publish a privacy policy, inform parents about the site's information-collecting practices, and get parents' consent before using or sharing children's personal information. The privacy policy must explain how the website or online service collects, uses, and discloses children's personal information, and it must include details on how parents can review and remove their child's personal information. Moreover, COPPA gives parents the right to stop any further use or collection of their child's personal information online.

  • COPPA applies to websites and other online services that are aimed at children under 13 as well as any website or online service that knows that it's collecting personal information from children under 13.
  • Operators who don't comply with COPPA can be fined up to $46,517 per violation.
  • Online privacy protection is more than just a legal requirement; it's a human right.
  • Protecting children's online privacy is not only about preventing harm but also about empowering children to exercise their rights and engage in the digital world.

While COPPA gives websites a responsibility to try to protect kids online, parents also need to take action on their end to keep their kids safe. One of the most important things parents can do is to set up parental controls on their children's devices. These tools can give parents the ability to restrict access to specific websites and content as well as monitor their children's online activity and limit the amount of time they spend online. Parents also need to teach their kids how to keep themselves safe online. It's crucial to open up a dialogue about the potential dangers of the Internet, including cyberbullying, identity theft, and online predators, and set rules governing children's online activity. For example, kids should keep their personal information private, only talk online with people they know in real life, avoid posting anything online that they wouldn't want the whole world to be able to see forever, not download anything from the Internet without checking with a parent first, and always tell an adult if something they see online makes them uncomfortable.

  • Children are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying and online predators because they tend to be unaware of the consequences of their actions and share too much personal information.
  • About 80% of children in 25 countries say they feel at risk of being sexually exploited or abused online.
  • Parental control applications and tracking software can be very useful in protecting children from online threats such as cyberbullying, sexting, harassment, and invasion of privacy.

Additional Internet Safety Resources

about the author

Clay Cary
Senior Trends Analyst
As an e-commerce analyst at CouponFollow, Clay enjoys spending his time collaborating with brands to make helpful content for consumers and finding great deals to share on CouponFollow. As a recent college graduate, his primary focus is creating resources for consumers, especially students, to save money through online shopping and everyday life.