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’Age restriction on social media’ as an attempt to protect children in the digital society – what dilemmas could be identified from the child´s perspective?

Conference contribution
Authors Marie Eneman
Published in IAMCR 2016 Conference - Children's and Young People's Rights in the Digital Age
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Social media, age restriction, children, young people, regulation
Subject categories Technology and social change, Law, Sociology of Law


The Swedish government is currently preparing the introduction of age restriction for social media. The age restriction risk being as high as 16 years. In reality, this means that children will be put in a situation were they need to ask their parent for permission to use social media such as for example Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. The Swedish response is based upon the agreement reached by the European Parliament and Council on the data protection reform proposed by the Commission. They argue that the reform is an essential step to strengthen citizens' fundamental rights in the digital age and describes the specific protection for children as follows: The Regulation recognizes that children deserve specific protection of their personal data, as they may be less aware of risks, consequences, safeguards and their rights in relation to the processing of personal data. For instance, they benefit from a clearer right to be forgotten. When it comes to information society services offered directly to a child, the Regulation foresees that consent for processing the data of a child must be given or authorized by the holder of the parental responsibility over the child. The age threshold is for Member States to define within a range of 13 to 16 years. The aim of this specific provision aims at protecting children from being pressured to share personal data without fully realizing the consequences. It will not to stop teenagers from using the Internet to get information, advice, education etc. Moreover, the Regulation specifies that the consent of the holder of parental responsibility should not be necessary in the context of preventive or counselling services offered directly to a child. This study will focus upon the child’s perspective on the suggestion of introducing age restrictions on social media as an attempt to strengthen the protection of children in the digital society and discuss potential dilemmas. Focus groups will be conducted within this study.

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