How to Access Your Children’s Social Media Profile Information - dummies

How to Access Your Children’s Social Media Profile Information

By Amy Lupold Bair

Maintaining access to your children’s profile information not only protects them from sharing too much or inappropriate information, but also guides them as they craft a positive, early digital presence.

There is certainly no way to completely guarantee your child’s safety, even on the most carefully reviewed websites with stellar privacy policies. Having said that, no parent wants to monitor their child’s every action online, and that type of supervision misses the point of allowing our children to grow and learn using the amazing technology at their fingertips

Sites created for children younger than age 13 require parent permission before the child user may create a new account. Many sites also allow parents to create a parent account, though, which acts as a master account for all child accounts within that family, allowing parents to change settings, monitor usage, change profile information, and more.

To access great safety tips, authenticate your child’s account, or create a master account, locate the Parents section of the social network platform.


Protect your child with COPPA

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, most often referred to as COPPA, is a law passed in 1998 that allows parents to control what personal information companies can collect about children younger than age 13. COPPA also regulates the following:

  • What must be included in a site’s privacy policy

  • Rules for seeking verifiable consent from a parent or guardian before allowing a child younger than 13 to use a site

  • Responsibilities of website owners to protect children’s privacy and safety online

In December of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated COPPA regulations to remain up to date with changes in technology. Changes include the following:

  • Requiring sites to get parental permission before collecting a child’s photographs, videos, and location information (all popular components of social media)

  • Requiring advertising providers (such as Google Ads) to obtain parental permission before tracking a child’s online activity in order to tailor advertising to that child’s online behavior

  • No longer allowing apps for kids to permit third parties to collect personal information from the children without parental consent

  • Extend COPPA regulations to cover IP addresses and mobile device identifiers

The changes do not, however, make app stores liable for the apps that they sell to children, which likely collect information about the children who use those apps.

Establish family rules regarding parent access to social media accounts

Although many sites for children include the option for parents to create a master account to monitor child accounts, not every account has this feature. Also, if your child has his own e-mail address, he may be able to circumvent the rules in place regarding parent verification of accounts.

Prior to allowing your children to enjoy social media sites created for them, set rules for your family specifically regarding parent access to your children’s online accounts. Include a section in your Digital Family Policy regarding what your children are expected to share with you. Consider keeping a list of the following:

  • Account names by site and child

  • Account passwords by site and child

  • Approved settings by site and child

Consider creating your own user account on sites that your children frequent so you have a better understanding of what they are experiencing online.