A report of the Growing Up Digital Taskforce of the British Children’s Commissioner was recently published, revealing that children routinely sign over their digital rights unknowingly.
The report examined the terms and conditions of Instagram and tested them on a sample of children. Instagram is used by 56% of 12-15 year olds and 43% of 8-11 year olds. The teenagers did not understand the terms and conditions as they are currently written. The authors conclude that they are therefore unaware that signing up to the terms involves waiving privacy rights and allowing their content to be potentially sold. When presented with a simplified version of those terms and conditions, some said they would reconsider their use of Instagram.
This study also reveals that in the UK 3-4 year olds spend 8h18 a week online, up from 6h48 in 2015. 12-15 years old spend over 20h a week online.
Given these findings, the British Children’s Commissioner is asking for the creation of a digital citizenship programme to be compulsory in every school for 4-14 year olds. The Commissioner is also calling for the full implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, even after Brexit and for the establishment of a Children’s Digital Ombudsman to mediate between under 18s and social media companies. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should also be reviewed and brought up to date for the digital age.