“Ok, one more episode of Gossip Girl,”
(45 minutes later)
“Ok, just one more…”
Students, young and old alike, have fallen victim to the addicting and easy-to-use Netflix service. With its online technology eliminating geographical barriers, limitless amounts of video selection, and its tailored customer service due to its cinematch system, Netflix has literally run big name companies, such as Blockbuster, out of its buildings and onto the street. The ease of online purchases and the ability for companies to collect data on their customers and better tailor their services has completely amped up the world of consumerism, and who is catching on the most? The younger generations, kids of today have completely embraced the technologically evolving era they have been born into. However, as much as the older generations have tried to catch on, a generational lag still exists between technology knowledge and uses between different age groups. Because of recent events, I can’t help but ask, could the generational lag of parenting tech savvy kids today be holding back innovations of the future?
Gone are the days of Leave it to Beaver parenting. With the efficient use of and data collecting technology used today, a whole slew of parenting changes and regulations come into play. And why should you as 18-22 year-olds care? Because its effecting the companies that effect you.
The first issue (ironically): the ease of making online purchases. Enter angry moms and dads whose children have racked up hundreds of dollars worth of charges by purchasing apps through their parents’ registered credit cards within a matter of minutes without asking. Now, you may laugh and ask why this is such a serious problem? Well, laugh no more, because just this past February, Apple agreed to pay more than $100 million to angry parents for their children’s unsanctioned spending, demonstrating the negative side to the double-edged sword to the ease of online shopping.
The second issue: data collecting. The Federal Trade Commission recently updated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, better known as COPPA, in order to protect children against technology that collects personal information from child users without parental consent. These new regulations spell trouble for the app industry, which relies heavily on the data it collects from its many users in order to improve its product. Companies must now begin to figure out how to comply with the new rules, which take effect in July. App developers, such as the ones that created Angry Birds, who do not specifically market their products to kids must now determine how they implement policies and procedures in order to comply with the new regulations given the level of ambiguity involved. The FTC has gone so far as to say any app with cartoon characters in it should take precaution, expecting companies to create the necessary additional technology in order to adhere to the new restrictions. However, just as in the first example, parenting comes into question. Here is what some people who have studied the matter have to say:
So where does the solution lie? More regulations or different parenting? While these recent events demonstrate a stronger use of government regulation on companies, I believe the video speaks to the necessity of adaptive parenting too. While regulations will help provide technology developers with guidelines to avoid inappropriately interacting with children, parents must begin to become better informed to teach their children how to properly deal with the Internet. The key word being teach. Children will benefit more from learning how to make smart decisions online than simply being blocked from making purchases and not allowed to fill out information. Nonetheless, these issues demonstrate how society must continue to grow and learn together in order to handle the changes advanced technology creates.
No matter your position on the issue, I personally think Apple spending $100 million to settle the suit and app creators and distributors cautiously analyzing how to best follow the new regulations reveals the importance of brand image and customer loyalty to these online companies. As we discussed in class, it is easy for people to have a bad experience online and simply never return to the site and spend their money. Rightly or wrongly, Apple’s attempts at fixing this issue illustrates the lengths online stores will go to maintain customer satisfaction. Additionally, individual app developers’ motivation to understand and follow the new regulation laws demonstrate how app creators realize how easy it would be for unhappy parents to switch the apps their children use. But should stores like Apple and program creators really have to do this? What do you think?
For more information on the events discussed, click on the links below: