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JIPS 2010 6.2 Article 2

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Prod. Code: JIPS2010-6.2Art2

A Call to Action: The Privacy Dangers Adolescents Face through Use of Facebook.com

Deborah M. Gray, Central Michigan University, chubb1dm@cmich.edu
Linda Christiansen, Indiana University Southeast, lchristi@ius.edu

ABSTRACT

Adolescents today will spend the equivalent of 23 years of their lifetime on the
Internet; 10 years of that span will be spent on social networking sites like Facebook
and MySpace. Research has been conducted that suggests teens are largely unaware
and unconcerned about protecting their privacy online. They are also unaware of the
future implications of creating a digital footprint in today’s online legal environment.
In fact, industry reports suggest teens openly divulge risky behavior on their social
networking web pages. Currently in the U.S., adolescents between the ages of 13 and
18 are treated as adults in terms of information privacy law. The Children’s Online
Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) law currently restricts data collection from children
under the age of 13, but does not restrict data collection from teens 13 or older.
Conventional wisdom suggests businesses, policy makers, educators, and parents
should be informed of social networking uses that will have a negative future impact
on adolescents. No research has been conducted that explores the complexity of
privacy policies that apply to this privacy-naïve segment of the market. This paper
advances teen information privacy research by reviewing current research,
comparing the complexity of privacy policies as they apply to the COPPA law and
addressing the immediate need for future research.