Dr. Tracy Bennett
Dr. Tracy Bennett
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It seems we may have FINALLY reached the tipping point for Internet safety. Governments are paying attention (GDPR), states are paying attention (Utah’s free-range parenting law), and Silicon Valley is paying attention (Google’s Family Link and Facebook’s Parents Portal). Guess why they’re paying attention! Because parents are demanding help. Parents now care, A LOT, about online privacy and preventing digital injury, and we are using our voices to make real change for our families. Today’s post is a quick summary of several things that have happened in the last few weeks that mean BIG THINGS are on the way to achieving screen safety for our kids.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Today is GDPR’s implementation date. The new mutually agreed General Data Protection Regulation was adopted by the European Parliament and European Council on April, 2016 after four years of negotiation. The two-year preparation period allowed businesses and public bodies opportunities to prepare for the changes. These new data protection laws were developed to replace the 1995 data protection directive with the objective to “harmonise” data privacy laws and give greater protection and rights to individuals.

After the slew of massive data breaches in the past six months with giants like Yahoo, MySpace, and LinkedIn, we at GetKidsInternetSafe believe this is a very positive move toward customer awareness and overall privacy protection. Under GDPR, the “destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to” personal data has to be reported to the country’s data protection regulator. Also, companies and organizations who collect customer data are required to document and inform customers about the details behind their data collection practices and systematically monitor processing. For some companies, this may mean hiring a data protection officer (DPO) and obtain consent in some situations. Noncompliance could result in fines. GDPR also gives customers more accessibility to the data collected about them and information about how it’s processed and what it’s used for.

What does this mean for American companies? For most, it means they’re scrambling to get compliant with GDPR. Giants like Facebook and Google have released statements committing to GDPR compliance, while others have gone dark as they block European customers from their sites until they’re confident with their compliance to avoid steep fines.

Utah’s Free-Range Kids

May 8thUtah Governor Gary Herbert signed bill SB65 that allows kids to have some independence from their helicopter parents to earn independent problem-solving skills. Controversial for certain, I commend Utah for taking a stand supporting kids to branch out and walk to school, hang out at the neighborhood park, and wait in the car while mom or dad runs errands. I like the idea of parents making decisions for their kids without fearing law enforcement sanctions. Obviously, safety must be considered, but our kids long for a chance to spend time running and biking outdoors. Let’s give it to them!

Facebook’s Messenger Kids, Youth Portal, and Parents Portal

Facebook has been on the well-deserved hot seat lately. But I also want to commend them for reaching out to the child development expert community for partnership in the development of their Messenger Kids messaging app. Even some of us on their Youth Advisory Council were openly and outspokenly suspect of the potential risks of this child product, yet they are correct in saying that kids are on their parent’s social media platforms and messaging sites already. By developing a platform with kids in mind, they have implemented much-needed parent controls and socioemotional and educational features that enrich development and connection. Their new Parents Portal and Youth Portal promises to provide much-needed information that can help many of us get back on track with safety measures.

It’s a work in process, with testing and tweaks. But now that the bridges have been built, I believe Facebook may open their doors to all types of facilitation for connection. I love that corporate is cooperating with the academic and clinical communities in support of kids and families. I, for one, will continue to be a fierce advocate for family connection and safety and welcome collaborative, creative opportunities.

Google’s Family Link and Apple’s Families Web Page

Google’s Family Link and Apple’s Families Web Page are also newly live. Although there are improvements to be made, the focus is shifting to the potential for digital injury with kids and how to prevent it. That is what I’ve been clamoring for many years now. Good news!

With all the expert portals up, parents are getting the information they need to set controls. However, I also think the main issue is getting missed. It’s not only a corporate issue, or government issue, parent issue, or a kid issue … it’s a family issue. We’ve been helicoptering away to keep our kids safe and too many of us have lost the fun in being a family. It’s possible to limit for safety, be on screens, and be close as a family. That’s what GetKidsInternetSafe is all about.

Thanks for spreading GKIS info to friends and family. Have an awesome Memorial Day Weekend! Mine starts right now!

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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