Cyber Stalking … Are McDonald’s, General Mills, Subway, and Cartoon Network Cyber Stalking Kids? . Recently I read a story about a few children’s advocacy, public interest, and health groups that jointly filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that online marketing by McDonald’s, Subway, Reese’s, Nick, Trix, and CartoonNetwork are inappropriately targeting children. That fact violates a federal statute to protect their privacy.
Apparently these websites are using a workaround to market to children. When children play games or do other activities on their websites, they are encouraged to send emails to their friends that promote products. These online marketing companies have used friend’s email addresses without asking for parental permission; that use is deemed illegal.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires “operators of websites to obtain verifiable consent from a child’s parents before collecting their personal information if they are under the age of 13.” With filing of this compliant, the online marketing companies are “taking it seriously.”
Parents should talk to their children about what is and isn’t appropriate to share online. It isn’t appropriate to share your name, your family members’ names, email address, physical address or photos. It seems even your friends’ email addresses now need to be added to the list.
It just goes to show that even the most innocent of web sites can do things to cause concern. For this reason, parents need to have regular discussions with kids about their online activity. Although most parents trust their children, kids are not generally aware of the ramifications of sharing “too much information.”
Monitoring your child’s online lifestyle is important. It can save heartache, stress, and even your identity.
By Russ Warner, CEO
I work for NetNanny. The opinions expressed here are my own.