1
\$\begingroup\$

I'm building an online gaming platform and have bumped into the question of age verification. Checkboxes such as "I verify that I am 13 years old or older" or a slider where you put in your age are common online when registering for accounts.

Why? I've been checking that box since I was a kid, it doesn't stop anyone. If you put it in your Terms of Service, is that enough?

Does any of this actually matter?

\$\endgroup\$

closed as off-topic by Philipp, Josh Sep 8 '16 at 15:19

  • This question does not appear to be about game development within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/3146/… \$\endgroup\$ – Alexandre Vaillancourt Sep 8 '16 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you're missing the point. It's not about stopping people. It's about who is responsible if a minor accesses inappropriate content. By having the age verification, the person cannot claim that they weren't warned. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Sep 8 '16 at 14:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ COPPA: ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/… \$\endgroup\$ – Almo Sep 8 '16 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Age verification through a simple click is as old as the world wide web. I lied about my age to porn sites 20 years ago. This is not a gamedev-specific topic. You might want to ask about its validity on law.stackexchange.com \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Sep 8 '16 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about the legal requirement for age verification on websites, which is not game development specific. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 8 '16 at 15:19
3
\$\begingroup\$

COPPA (in the U.S.) and similar laws abroad require children be of a certain age to provide information about themselves or utilize online services. Ostensibly, the "I am 13" checkbox protects the owners of the server or software from violating such acts, even though there is no guarantee that the user is being truthful (is there ever?).

There are other methods to "ensure" age, such as validating a credit card. This, I believe, is also acceptable. However, just including a "you must be 13 years old or older to use this service" in your TOS will not protect you from violating COPPA.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ The credit card method doesn't really works as it can stop people over 13 to register (some countries doesn't allow you to have a credit card under 16 or 18) \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Sep 8 '16 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, it doesn't prevent an 8 year old from going into mom's wallet, either. It is just another thing that some sites use. No method is perfect, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Williams Sep 8 '16 at 16:32
1
\$\begingroup\$

It does actually matter. Children under 13 can't give out personal information without their parents permission. Because most sites are directed towards grown ups (like stackoverflow for example), they have no way of checking if the registered user is over 13.

Sites for children can avoid this by usually asking for the parents email where the children can get the activation code for his/her profile. There are sites which make you accept an agrrement.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, but the child could provide another of his or her own emails (lots of kids have a school email and a family or personal email these days). Agreements are great, except a 10 year old can say they are older and agree, AND in many countries contracts aren't legally binding for kids. Due diligence is a big part of culpability for content access. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Williams Oct 5 '18 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jesse These systems are in place to protect the companies behind said sites, even if the parent or guardian of the child starts arguing about this, they can't legally take the company to court, because "they warned them". They don't have to work 100% of the time. If you need to be sure the person is over 18, you ask for a picture of their paper, like some banking sites do \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Oct 6 '18 at 15:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.