Social Media Harms

Safeguarding the Digital Generation: Understanding the Children and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0)

Bill Updates 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Rules To Reflect New Technologies, Fix Loopholes

Sharon Winkler
Social Media Harms


Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) was re-introduced by Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) on May 3, 2023. This legislation will update children’s privacy legislation passed in 1998, a time when Yahoo! and Altavista dominated search engines and AOL and Hotmail were leading e-mail services. Social media platforms and smartphones had not yet been developed. Platforms are using methods that could not have been anticipated then to collect personal data online regarding minors. Updated regulations are urgently needed to protect our children’s privacy.

COPPA was meant to minimize the amount of personal data online platforms could collect on users under 13 years old. Geoffrey Fowler in his Washington Post article, “Your kids’ apps are spying on them” reported on two loopholes that have essentially gutted COPPA enforcement. First, COPPA requires that platforms have “actual knowledge” that the user was under 13. If a user simply claimed that they were over the age of 13, companies argued that COPPA regulations did not apply. Platforms could also skirt COPPA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations by marketing apps/online services that could be attractive to users under 13 years old by marketing their services for “general audiences.”

“By the time a child reaches 13, online advertising firms hold an average of 72 million data points about them, according to SuperAwesome, a London-based company that helps app developers navigate child-privacy laws.” Source: Geoffrey Fowler, Washington Post

Per SEN Markey COPPA 2.0 would:

  • Prohibit internet companies from collecting personal information from users under age 16 without the user’s consent.
  • Revise COPPA’s “actual knowledge” standard, covering platforms that are “reasonably likely to be used” by children and protecting users who are “reasonably likely to be” children or minors;
  • Establish a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights for Teens” that limits the collection of personal information of teens
  • Ban targeted advertising directed at children (as opposed to contextual advertising, for example, directing advertisements to a user based upon the content of a visited website).
  • Create an “Eraser Button” for parents and kids by requiring companies to permit users to eliminate personal information from a child or teen when technologically feasible;
  • Establish a Youth Marketing and Privacy Division at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The United States is behind other countries in regulating internet privacy protections for its citizens. In September 2020, the United Kingdom introduced “Age appropriate design codes” to ensure that internet services were safer for children, teens and young adults through age 23 years. With 95 percent of U.S. teens surveyed by Pew Research in 2022 reporting that they had used YouTube at least once, it is obvious that internet platforms are becoming integral to our children’s lives. The U.S. needs to catch up with other countries and pass similar online privacy regulations for our children.

The legislation is endorsed by #HalfTheStory, Academy for Eating Disorders, Accountable Tech, Amanda Birkhead Nutrition Counseling LLC, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Counseling Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, American Psychological Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), Banu Foundation, Be Real USA, Becca Schmill Foundation, Berkeley Media Studies Group, C. Everett Koop — Geisel School of Medicine, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Online Safety, Centerstone, Children Now, Citizens for Decency, Clinical Social Work Association, Common Sense Media, Compass 31, Consumer Action, Darren White, Defending the Early Years, Design It For Us, Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action, EDGE Consulting Partners, Enough Is Enough, Fairplay, IGGY Ventures,, Lynn’s Warriors , MACGH, Media Education Foundation, Mental Health America, Mentari , National Association of School Nurses, National Alliance for Eating Disorders, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Association of Social Workers, National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, National Eating Disorders Association, National Federation of Families, National League for Nursing, Network for Public Education, Parents Television and Media Council, Parents Who Fight, Paving the Way Foundation, Peace Educators Allied for a Safe Environment (P.E.A.C.E.), Porn Free Colorado, Postpartum Support International, Prevention Institute, Project HEAL, Project Stand, Protect Young Eyes, Public Good Law Center, Public Health Institute, Realized Potential Inc, Rego Payment Architectures Inc., RI International, Shift SC, Stop Predatory Gambling and Campaign for Gambling-Free Kids, Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, Susan K. Youngsteadt LCSW, PLLC, The Kennedy Forum, The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, (, Turning Life On, Tyler Clementi Foundation, U.S. PIRG, Uprising, Wager Score, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, We Stand Guard LLC, Wealth Management Ministries-Prevention Works Joint Task Force & Coalition, WithAll, worthy2, YCA Human Trafficking Task Force, Children and Screens Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, and the National Parent Teacher Association.

Now is the time to contact your senators and ask them to endorse this important legislation.

Social Media Harms was developed to provide a listing of peer-reviewed studies, books and articles that adhere to journalistic standards that document the negative effects of social media use. It is meant to be a tool to be used by people who are concerned about social media’s negative effects on people’s emotions, actions and lives. We do not solicit donations, however, we are asking for additions to our lists of peer reviewed studies and authoritative books and articles.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.



Sharon Winkler
Social Media Harms

Publisher/Editor Social Media Harms, Mother, Grandmother, Retired U. S. Naval Officer