Teens and parents alike have long expressed concern over the permanency of Internet and social media posts. We advise our kids to “think before you post” and pray that they’ll listen. The state of California, however, is taking measures to protect those kids who, despite these warnings, slip up and post something that they later regret.
What Is the Eraser Bill?
Senate Bill number 568 (aka the “eraser bill”) requires apps and social media sites to grant kids the ability to delete pictures and posts, thereby minimizing any harmful effects of ill-thought-out status updates or offensive comments made in haste. The idea is that since teens’ brains are still developing, they shouldn’t have to face the long-term consequences (i.e. embarrassment, loss of job opportunities, etc.) of a digital decision they made in adolescence.
What Is the Significance of the Bill?
No doubt, the eraser bill was passed with good intentions, and if it spurs some social media sites and apps to add a delete feature (most already have them), then it’s effort well-spent. California parents shouldn’t assume that their kids’ online reputations are completely safe as a result of the bill passing however. After all, the bigger problem is the potential for teens’ posts to go “viral” before they have the chance to change their minds. How many times will the scantily clad picture of your teenage daughter be shared and reposted before she thinks better of having posted it in the first place? How many cruel answers will your teen get to the ask.fm question, “Do you think I’m hot?” before she decides it wasn’t a good idea to seek reassurance from strangers?
Takeaway for Parents
California may be the first to legislate an erase option for teens, but it won’t likely be the last. While we should applaud any efforts to safeguard teen’s privacy and reputations on the Web, we won’t do ourselves or our kids any favors by entertaining a false sense of security. Bill or no bill, it’s still our duty as parents to educate our children about the dangers of the Internet, encourage safe and responsible use, and trust but verify when it comes to what our kids are posting for the world to see.