Child Safety Online: Running Websites Aimed at Children

Child Safety Online: Running Websites Aimed at Children

By DeAnn Chase January 08, 2018    Category: Business Law     Tags: business children Law online software

Child Safety Online: Running Websites Aimed at Children

You might not realize this if you don’t have children, but web content is popping up aimed specifically at entertaining, engaging, and marketing to children. Today’s kids can navigate a tablet before they can talk and online businesses are targeting this demographic (and their parents) to educate and market. You can’t buy a kids meal at a fast food restaurant without the toy including an online game or component and YouTube channels with millions of views are popping up where the video is nothing but adults playing with toys or playing video games.

To promote child safety online, there are both best practices and laws for designing an online product aimed at children that businesses should be aware of. Savvy parents will be looking for certain key signs that a website is going to be safe for their children to visit regularly.

More specifically, businesses targeting children online need to ensure they comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which promotes child safety. This law limits the information website can collect from children and ensures guardians are aware of any information that is collected. For child safety, this law applies even to websites not specifically aimed at children. For example, this rule applies to information collected if there is a possibility your website, or a service or plugin your company provides, could be used on a website directed at children.

For child safety, websites, mobile applications, and connected toys are required to provide clear notice to guardians of the information they are collecting and get consent from guardians before collecting this information from children. Child-focused websites promote child safety online and ensure compliance with the law in the sign-up process before children can access games by requiring a guardian to set up an account for the child.

For sites with broader appeal, there is no active duty regarding child safety until the site somehow has actual knowledge they’re collecting information from someone under 13 (for example, if they fill out their birth date or if an advertising network is running ads on a children’s site).

If you determine your business and website need to comply with COPPA, your first step is to post a privacy policy that both clearly and completely describes what information you’re collecting and how you’re using it. This includes simply tracking a child’s log-ins and activity to provide them the next level of the game. To protect children’s safety online, ensure you have a sign-up process that requires a parent or guardian to acknowledge the information you’re collecting and gather their consent before you continue. Finally, you have a duty to protect the privacy and security of the information you’re collecting from children, so you want to ensure you’re using best practices in data security.

For guidance on how to comply with COPPA and help drafting terms of service and privacy policies for your website, reach out to the attorneys at Chase Law Group, P.C. The experienced team can help you comply with the law and promote child safety online. Give us a call at (310) 545-7700.