Document Type

Article

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Media and socio-cultural communication

Publication Details

Ethics and Information Technology, 15(4), 253–262.

Abstract

Internet companies place a high priority on the safety of their services and on their corporate responsibility towards protection of all users, especially younger ones. However, such efforts are undermined by the large numbers of children who circumvent age restrictions and lie about their age to gain access to such platforms. This paper deals with the ethical issues that arise in this not-so-hypothetical situation. Who, for instance, bears responsibility for children’s welfare in this context? Are parents/carers ethically culpable in failing to be sufficiently vigilant or even facilitating their children’s social media use? Do industry providers do enough to enforce their own regulations and remove those users they know to be underage? How far does a duty of care extend? Regulation of age restrictions has, it is argued, created unintended consequences that heighten online dangers for young people. While children are inevitably drawn to new online spaces for entertainment and fun, should their rights to participate in the social world around them be curtailed to ensure their best interests and those of the wider community? Such questions now pose significant practical and ethical dilemmas for policy makers and other stakeholders involved in internet governance. It especially highlights the question of responsibility for protection of minors online and calls into question whether the current model of shared responsibility is working.

DOI

10.1007/s10676-013-9331-4

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