Two weeks ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World” into California law. The actual law (SB-568) will go into effect in January of 2015 and is written to help prevent teen bullying and backlash from harmful activity that may interfere with college or future jobs.
The bill is categorized as Internet Privacy for minors and summed up as follows:
- Existing federal law requires an operator of an Internet website or online service collecting personal information from a child to provide notice of what information is being collected and to give parents the opportunity to decline giving further information.
- The bill would prohibit any operator of an Internet website, online application or mobile application from marketing or advertising specific types of products or services to a minor. This also goes for third party marketing. The marketing and advertising includes subdivisions such as: Alcoholic beverages, firearms and handguns, ammunition, cigarettes, etc.
- The bill would require the operator of an Internet Website, online service, online application or mobile application to permit a minor who is a registered user of the website (etc) to remove or obtain removal of content.
While the goal of the law is a noble one, it raises the question does this teach responsibility of actions? When I was growing up, there were rules, and the one simple rule was do not get out of line. That encompasses all things: no fighting, no lewd behavior, no talking back to adults, no drugs and alcohol, no sex and you have to be on your best behavior at all times. There was no such thing as Facebook then so there wasn’t a threat of lingering status updates or online activity that would follow us years into our future. My friends and I wrote notes and were very careful about the things we said on paper. Imagine that!
As teens growing up, we were responsible. We knew that every action we took would jeopardize who we’d become. There was no taking back what you say and definitely no “Internet eraser” for improper behavior. If you did something wrong, you suffered the consequences.
While I understand the law is to prevent bullying and minors from being subject to abuse we have to ask ourselves is this bill about protecting children or bad parenting? Where are the parents?
Ms. Mays, a mother of two out of Boston, doesn’t think the law is the best ideas. “These children today are placing vulgar images on the Internet and are not accountable for their actions. Why should a child be able to erase their activity and start over with a blank slate and not be able to look back? We are giving them a pass to walk around with the illusion that they did not do anything wrong…clearing the slate does not give them the opportunity to have the lesson ingrained in them and teach integrity. How will they learn or grow from their behavior?”
Ms. Mays feels parents have to be their kid’s first line of defense against bad Internet behavior. “Children are fragile at a certain age, they want to be liked and to be accepted by groups that get the most attention…you have to walk the line with your kid because you don’t want them to fall into the wrong crowd. Theres a very thin line between chaos and order and if you aren’t mindful of your children’s actions you’re not parenting properly…it is the parent’s responsibility to curb the wrong actions of their children. I think it’s wrong to cover up a person’s behavior no matter the age.”
I have to agree with Ms. Mays. Yes, the world is a much dangerous place, especially the digital world that teens find themselves navigating in most days. Young girls are facing the peer pressure of being “desired” by young boys and therefore load inappropriate pictures of themselves on social networks like Facebook.
I believe there should be more monitoring of your teen while on the Internet before expecting a law to do a parent’s job. Where were the parents when a young man decides to take a gun and massacre a school of students, such as Columbine? In the most recent years, since Columbine, mass school shootings have become the headlines. I agree, there should be a law which prevents teens from being marketed to in regards to firearms and other illegal activity, however, I believe in order for a law to stay and remain in effect, the parents need to lay down the laws of their home and stay alert, making sure your child’s behavior is normal and that they are not easy prey to predators and peer pressure. A stable home makes for a stable teen, and stable teens do not have to take back their actions for inappropriate, dangerous behaviors. What do you think?