WARNING: I fully intend to frustrate many parents with this post.
Here’s the thing – Integrity is hard to maintain. We embrace its value and even promote living with absolute integrity as individuals. As parents we strive to model the way we are supposed to live in front of our kids.
So why do we allow our kids to bypass EULA restrictions to gain access to a popular app? (EULA = End User License Agreement)
This issue came to a head this past week as my son was asking me to download the game, “Clash of Clans” on the family iPad so he could play. He has multiple friends at school and church who play so I didn’t think much of it. After doing a little digging around, I figured out what parameters I needed to establish (in-game purchases set to “off”) and started the download.
And that’s when the EULA notice popped open –
Uh Oh! 13 years of age minimum! My son is 11.
I know no one reads the EULAs. They are huge legal documents. Indemnify this. Exclude that. More lawyer-speak. And we are off on a nap.
This time was different. The app through iTunes on our iPad actually requires you to agree to this specific age restriction before allowing play. To allow my son access meant lying about his age.
And now we are back to the integrity issue.
I want my son to tell the truth. I want him to walk with integrity. Lying about your age is a huge issue. Yet as Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft notes, “Not only are kids lying about their age, but more often than not, parents teach them to lie about their age,”
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and most other social media websites have age restrictions set at 13 to avoid Federal legal mandates that require them to do more to police content and discussions. These are to be heeded by parents as well as children.
In some respects, as parents allow children to access these sites with their permission, they are giving their children an illegal “fake” digital ID. No self-respecting parent would give their kids a fake ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes, but we are allowing our children to access and participate in digital media not designed for them and prohibited by the distributers of the software. We cave – often because everyone else is.
In addition, children’s fake birthdates (set to a much older age) are stuck in their profiles. The only way to change a child’s date in Facebook or Instagram is to cancel the account and start over – something an active social media person is loathe to do. And this is outside of the challenges that come from the dark-side of the internet as people view profiles of your now, much “older” child.
So what’s a parent to do?
· Respect the EULA – Show integrity to your children by not allowing them to participate.
· Inform other parents – sometimes parents are simply unaware that there are age restrictions.
· Reinforce the concept of integrity with your kids – Help them see you won’t tolerate rule breaking now or later.
· Equip your kids with answers – When their friends ask why they can’t play, make sure your son or daughter has good answers to the “why”.
This is not an easy situation. My son hated my answer. We looked for other editions that may have provided a different EULA option, but in the end, my son will be waiting another couple of years before making his social media and online gaming debut.
John Mark Yeats