With quick click, teens part with online privacy

This article ran in the print edition of today’s paper:

When Scott Fitzsimones turned 13, he got an iPhone, set up accounts for Facebook and Pandora and went on an apps downloading spree. At the same time, the new teenager lost many protections over his privacy online.

The games he plays know his location at any given moment through the phone’s GPS technology. He has entered his parents’ credit card number to buy apps, and iTunes has his family’s e-mail address and everyone’s full names. Facebook knows his birth date and the school he attends.

At an age when his parents won’t let him go to the mall alone and in an era when he would never open up to a stranger, Fitzsimones, who lives in Phoenix, already has a growing dossier accumulating on the Web. And while Congress has passed laws to protect the youngest of Internet users from sharing much information about themselves, once those children become teens, the same privacy rules no longer apply.

“It’s the Wild West for teens when it comes to privacy online,” said Kathryn Montgomery, a privacy advocate and communications professor at American University.

To continue reading this story, click here.

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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