The new GDPR regulations in Europe are set to increase the protection of privacy and they have been welcomed by many people. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and a group of experts has warned that the regulations could actually have a negative impact that was not foreseen. There are increasing concerns that a specific group of the population may be affected by the regulations. Experts and many people in the industry have referred to the possible implications that GDPR can have for young people. Ida Tin, founder and CEO of Clue is one of the people who have spoken about this. Clue is an app designed to help users to track their periods. Under the new regulations, those under the age of 16 will have to get parental consent to be able to use the app. Tin fears that requiring this, could stop some young women from using the app. Out of embarrassment, they may not want to ask their parents if they can download the app.
The need for some level of digital privacy
Clue may be a very specific example, but the reality is that the new legislation has highlighted some issues related to privacy for children. In general, child psychologists and experts may understand and even agree with the boundaries set by GDPR. After all, there are many dangers lurking online and parents are worried about the content that their kids can access. GDPR offers a way to take control, but experts are also worried about how consent could affect kids who are looking for help through online services. Many children feel that they can’t talk to their parents and even if they do, some parents simply won’t listen to them. There are forums and options available online for these kids, but if they need to seek parental consent, it is likely that the number of youngsters using these services will decrease.
While in most cases, parents are simply trying to protect their kids, the lack of digital privacy or having to ask for consent to use services that could help children at risk, can create a very bad situation. Experts have also warned about the importance of giving young users digital privacy. This is particularly true for teenagers as at this stage, parents should have built trust and avoid spying on them.
Pushing children to lie?
Asking users under the age of 16 for parental consent, has already caused issues for young people. Popular apps like WhatsApp have updated their minimum age requirement for users in Europe. Before that, WhatsApp was available to users as young as 13 and while this is still true for users in the US, those in Europe that are below the new required age won’t be able to use the app anymore. Many believe that this will likely prompt young people to lie about their age, after all, most apps can’t really check if someone is truly the age that they claim to be. Apps like Clue, which gather data to create stats about their users, may not get accurate information as it is very possible that after GDPR, many kids just claim to be 16 in order to be able to use the app.
Not a new problem
According to some studies, children as young as 10 have already created social media profiles, even of the minimum age requirement for popular options like Facebook and Instagram is 13. Most parents seem to be unaware of the age restrictions implemented on these services. Many of them don’t even know that their younger kids aren’t supposed to be using social media sites. In some cases, parents would allow their kids to use social media, even if they haven’t reached the minimum age required to create an account. Considering this, it is very likely that children will sign up for services and hand over their data, even after GDPR. In the end, it is important that parents talk with their kids about their use of social media, the risks involved and the importance of privacy.