Privacy for children in the digital age

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If you think that stress on the eyes or a lack of physical activity are the only downsides of children spending long hours on the internet, think again!

Recently, I have explored many solutions available in the market, which can predict your behavior based upon your online activity. So, even if you may not realize it now, you are downloading a copy of your child’s soul on the internet and giving its access to unknown third parties.  

What you might not be seeing is that from a very young age a child’s behavior is being stored virtually. As a result, ever-progressing analytics tools will find it way easier to influence their decisions and actions in life. 

I know this might sound harsh, but that is the truth of the present tech-driven times. 

The autonomy and independence of children as actors in the world relies on both their freedom to participate and their freedom from excessive persuasion or control. The relationship between privacy and online enablement is becoming highly complex in the age of Industry 4.0. It’s because any digital activity produces data. Whether it may be provided by digital actors, measurable from digital traces, or inferred by others, whether human or algorithmic, all activities online generate data.

This poses a big challenge in terms of providing optimum digital exposure to children as they learn to grasp the digital world and interact with it critically.

The COVID-19 restrictions further resulted in the accelerated adoption of virtual means of learning and education. With the concerns about the privacy of children, and the commercial use of their data, children’s awareness of the digital world, their digital abilities and their ability to consent must be taken into account in the design, regulation, and policy of services.

Having access to personal data of a child may result in discrimination or less favorable treatment in various walks of life such as education, jobs, financial or insurance assessment, and maybe even personal choices. 

Data that was generated during the early years can ‘track people throughout their lives’ as online traces can stay forever unless deleted.

Another aspect of concern is that the majority of the institutions collecting and/or maintaining such data, or are delegating such services, are themselves for-profit companies. Unless stringent regulations are in place which assure strict adherence, throughout a child’s life, children can be influenced due to such data taking away an individual’s basic right of making independent decisions. This will have a long term impact on a child’s life. 

So it’s time to stop overlooking those terms of usage and ignorantly accepting privacy policies and cookie consents and taking matters into your own hands. 

In the long run, as a practice, the concept of Data privacy should be introduced to a child as soon as the child starts using the virtual systems independently. However, a key first step is awareness among the parents and guardians. Parents and guardians must understand the importance of a child’s data privacy and how it impacts a child’s future. 

We all know that using technology is unavoidable and progressive. But with some key changes and awareness, we can make it a safer place to enjoy the fruits of development.  

Ayottaz can help you in building a safer virtual environment for your child. Want to understand how, click on this link to take our assessment. 

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