Internet risks: small print and small people
By Joanna Lalor
It is hard now to imagine growing up in a world without the internet. The online environment is invaluable for learning, socialising and entertaining everyone, not least children.
With all the benefits of the digital age comes a multitude of risks that children are less able to navigate than adults and parents worry about endlessly. With horror stories of children racking up massive bills on costly in-app purchases, privacy issues with games and websites aimed at under-16s, internet trolls and bullies and a general overwhelming sense that every website is trying to sell something to your child, it is understandable that parents are concerned. This is something traders, developers and internet service providers are waking up to, along with the legislator and various regulators.
The issue facing the regulators is that use of traditional small print is not always appropriate to protect children on the internet. Indeed, contracts entered into with children under 18 are usually unenforceable. Adults have enough trouble deciphering the small print, whether in the virtual or the real world, so how can children be expected to do so? If the small print does not adequately protect children, what does? …
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