Senator Jay Rockefeller today gathered with a group of parents, law enforcement officials, advocacy groups and educators in a discussion with officials from Google, Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission to discuss ways to keep children safe on the Internet.
"Our kids are spending more and more time online, so we have to be more vigilant than ever in keeping them safe," Rockefeller said. "Technology is evolving so rapidly -- with smartphones and tablets in nearly every young person's hand -- that it's hard for parents to keep up. We need to give parents the best tools and information to protect
their children. Today's discussion gives new insight into how we can do that."
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees federal consumer protection and privacy issues, Rockefeller has been at the forefront of keeping children safe online. Children and teens today freely share information about themselves to peers and advertisers, opening them up to potential threats. The ease of access to
children's information--either voluntarily posted by kids themselves or collected by unscrupulous companies--can be dangerous to their well-being.
Increasing these privacy challenges is the rise of mobile computing. Nearly 40 percent of teenagers own a smartphone, which can be used to access the Internet without parental supervision.
"The Internet holds enormous promise for our young people, providing them educational and cultural opportunities that were unheard of just 20 years ago," Rockefeller said. "We have a responsibility to do everything we can -- in Congress and in our homes -- to protect children as they use this incredible resource."
The roundtable is the latest in a series of roundtable discussions on protecting children, along with two hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee in recent years that explored children's online safety and privacy.