Are Tech Savvy Kids of Today Slowing Companies in the Future?

“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. ImageWith 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. ImageNow, 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 bigger picture

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:

http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22671921/apple-plans-pay-parents-100-million-itunes-credits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323916304578403003629353068.html

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5 thoughts on “Are Tech Savvy Kids of Today Slowing Companies in the Future?

  1. Very interesting and relevant article topic! I agree with you that parents need to take more responsibility in watching which apps their children download. Countless times my younger brother and sister have downloaded apps without telling my parents. Not only is there an issue with the ease of downloading for kids who rack up large bills for their parents, but also they become exposed to a variety of content through these applications. Third party application developers are approved by Apple for the iPhone, but other operating systems, such as Android, allow for open sourcing of their apps. This allows essentially anyone to create their own application for other users to download and the content could be unsuitable for young children who have already mastered the phone technology. For this reason, I think it is beneficial that the FTC has implemented new rules, but it will definitely come down to the parents checking up on what is downloaded and ensuring that they either take their credit card off of the app store or set up new passwords.

  2. I definitely agree that parents need to have a more proactive role in overseeing their children’s online activities. This, however, is becoming increasingly difficult with the virtually ubiquitous access to technology and the internet. With tablets, smartphones, laptops, and upcoming products such as Google glass and the much rumored about iWatch, parents teaching online responsibility is a tall order.

    Where parents come short, I do feel legislation needs to step in. Some type of line needs to be drawn between marketing/ data research and invasive monitoring of our every move. The technology is available to monitor us very closely, but some things I think we can all agree, should be kept private.

    This post does a very nice job of linking class discussion to a very relevant topic that comes up in class nearly ever discussion: the double-edged sword of technology. This issue is extremely applicable to the IT platform for this class as well as the issues we face in the outside world. Everywhere we go we hear more about how companies are gathering more and more information about us to do anything from suggesting movies (Netflix’s cinematch) to trying to decipher who is pregnant and who is not.

    Nice use of pictures!

  3. I completely agree with this post. I feel like more times than not, parents are not held responsible for things that their children do online and with the purchases of their apps. I feel as though, no matter how many laws are made to protect children, the best way to protect children are the parents. Also, I feel it is slightly ridiculous that Apple paid out that much money when it was the parents that made it possible for their kids to spend that much money.

    I also feel that this article did a great job of connecting its thoughts to the class on Netflix, as well as the class on double edged sword. It was an interesting idea, and it was very well written and thought out.

    I also thought that the small pictures were a very nice touch, as well as the video embedded and the links at the end of the blog. Overall, I felt that it was a very well done blog post.

  4. I think Apple and other online stores should meet parents halfway. Right now companies like Amazon have made it incredibly easy to shop online with their one-click purchase option, which means it’s incredibly easy for kids to purchase things without their parents’ consent. It would be nice if Amazon gave the option to have a parental lock where a password must be entered in order to buy something( not sure if they already have this). However, it’s also up to parents to explain to their kids that it’s not okay to purchase apps and other items without their consent. One day their children are going to have their own bank accounts so I think it would be wise to impress upon them the importance of not recklessly spending money online.

  5. Online privacy is a very contentious subject that is sure to drive significant industry change as internet (particularly mobile) adoption increases. The evolution of regulations coming out of California will be interesting to observe, as they tend to be more reactive than the rest of the country. For example, California became the first state to enact statutes specifically dedicated to online mobile privacy. Regulations in the EU are also interesting to observe since they are considerably more restrictive than exists in the US.

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