Did you know there is an age restriction for email? Apparently there is. A child must be at least 13 years of age to have an email account. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that was passed back in 1998, protects the privacy of children under the age of 13. It prohibits websites from collecting any personal information, including location, of the child. Since email accounts, Facebook and other social media sites collect data on each of their users, they are not allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13.
Google/Gmail = 13 years old.
Yahoo email = 13 years old or can have a “family email account” that is linked to a parents email account.
Hotmail = 13 years old.
Skype = 13 years old.
Facebook = 13 years old.
Google+ = 13 years old.
Instagram = 13 years old.
LinkedIn = 18 years old.
This was news to me. It wasn’t until I was interviewed by a reporter for the New York Times that I found out there is an age restriction for Instagram. My son has had an Instagram account for over a year and he’s just now 13. Upon asking him, for the reporter who was writing the story, he told me he had lied about his age. What? MY son? The son of InstaMom? He did. True story.
It seems that the companies are serious about it too. Just recently, I had a friend ask me on Facebook about Google closing down her son’s Gmail account. He’s had it for two years and has several devices linked to it. Now they can’t access it due to Google deactivating the account. Did some searching around and it appears that this is a common occurrence. The age requirements on Google Accounts is explained here. There is even more information located here about Google Accounts and what to do if the accounts are shut down.
From Google’s support page:
What can I do to re-enable my Google Account?
You can re-enable your account by following our instructions to confirm that you are old enough to have a Google Account. You will see these instructions when you attempt to sign back in to your account through any Google sign-in page. If you are a Google Apps user, you should go to accounts.google.com in order to re-enable your account. We currently offer three ways to confirm your age:
- Sending in a signed form via mail or fax with a copy of your current, government-issued ID showing your date of birth, or
- Uploading an electronic copy of your current, government-issued ID showing your date of birth, or
- Performing a small transaction ($0.30 USD) on a valid credit card.
Note: You may be charged an additional $1.00 USD for your transaction of $0.30 USD. This is simply a pre-authorization charge that will be erased from your account in a few days. If your transaction does not go through, check to see if you are using an invalid card or have provided incorrect information. Your transaction of $0.30 USD will be donated to a child protection organization.
If you are under 18, your parent or guardian will have to supply the confirmation on your behalf.
Most likely, these restrictions have been in place from the very beginning but they are starting to enforce them more due to a growing concern for children and the internet. Hope this helps!
UPDATED RELATED ARTICLES (2014):
- Age Restrictions on Social Media Sites: http://techgranny.linneyville.com/age-restrictions-on-social-media-sites/
- Minimum Age Restrictions: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-minimum-age/501920