Should Websites Force Age Verification?

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Emma Perlstein, Staff Writer


The rise of technology came forth with the new millennia, and thus far, has resulted in many benevolent advancements in medicine, education, and communication. However, this newer technology is available to users of all ages, including young children. Anywhere and everywhere a person might go, they will see the youngest generation walking around, eyes glued to their devices. They have been subsequently dubbed “iPad kids” for this extreme attachment to online games and media. It is because of this that many online databases have required some form of age verification in which they can assure that their audience is of proper maturity; simply put, preventing kids from stumbling upon a network that can be considered an “inappropriate” site. 


Nevertheless, many adults struggle with the patience it requires when asked for this said verification. So, a controversial question arises from this dilemma: should websites continue to force age verification to protect young kids, or should they drop it to avoid the inconvenience it causes on the older generations? This question still stands. 


A New York Times article recently written by Jeremy Engel analyzed precisely this situation. Engel references a common occurrence that plays out specifically with a man named Richard Errington, who had given up on watching a movie after it required a complicated three-step verification process. 


The situation that Engel references in his article is a major problem. This inconvenience can drive away a significant amount of business for these databases, and it punishes these websites for things that they should not have to take responsibility for. 


It can be argued that children’s online safety should be of utmost priority and forcing other age groups to also comply with completing a few verification steps should not be that impractical. However, here is my irrefutable rebuttal: as I mentioned above, it is the duty of the parents to look after what sites their kids stumble upon. This “increasing online safety” for children through these intricate verification processes simply prompts people to give out private and personal information that these sites should not have access to. 


For example, Richard Errington, mentioned in Engel’s article previously, had a lengthy checklist of steps to plow through before he could access a movie of his choice. He had to “Enter his credit card information, upload a photo identification like a passport or skip the video”. From a privacy standpoint, if I was asked to give both my financial and personal information like Errington had been, simply to view a rated R movie, I would give up.


Leave it to the parents to assure that their child is safe and solely watching Nickelodeon or Disney Channel. Nevertheless, for websites to be forcing age verification processes that either drive away business or give forth too much private information from its users, is without a doubt inequitable.