Chelsea's Blog

Archive for September 2009

When I was younger I would register with websites such as Disney.com and Barbie.com both of which are directed at youth 13 years and younger.  I would hear about these websites at school and instantly want access.  In order to log in I needed to register.  I handed over whatever information they asked of me in order to gain access to the coolest trend. Soon enough I was playing various games online.  Never did I think about the privacy of my information online, nor did I really care.  That is until one day my parents checked the “recently viewed websites” in the web browser and began asking questions about what I was doing online.  They brought up the privacy issue trying to explain to me that these websites use all the information I have entered against me.  “They can’t do that” I told them – but in reality I didn’t know the first thing about online privacy.

Permission marketing and the use of cookies are both causes for concern in the online world.  What are these websites using our information for? Is it really used only for the stated purposes?  There are privacy policies stated, but how do we really know if the websites follow the rules?

It is crucial that web users begin to educate themselves on the subject of online privacy, before they are taken advantage of.  No one really seems to take the time to review the terms and conditions of a website – they just click through in order to gain immediate access.

Disney’s privacy policy states what type of personal information it collects like: gender, age, and email address. What surprised me is the fact that the entire Walt Disney family of companies gets access to the information – not just Disney (users can opt out).  Also in some cases they hand the information over to third parties for promotional purposes.  Disney has a special Kids Privacy Policy.  Barbie’s privacy policy states that information is not required to access the general site; however, for access to special, enhanced content – registration is required. What a surprise! This policy states that children’s personal information is deleted once the purpose of collection is completed.

It is crucial that parents take the time to investigate the sites their children are using.  In this day and age you cannot just assume that your information will be safe online, because websites can manipulate their words to gain your “permission.”  Take a look at this program aired by PBS Frontline entitled “Growing Up Online” that explains how the internet influences how children grow up – the page also has tips on how to keep your children safe online.

Just wanted to test this out before posting my first blog!



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