In his article “The Challenge of Developing Effective Public Policy on the Use of Social Media,” John Palfrey, co-director of Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, discusses the problems that American youth face in the wake of increased online social media presence in his article.

One of Palfrey’s  concerns is balancing the desire to encourage

“…digital-era youth media practices (for  instance, learning, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and civic activism), while mitigating the challenges (for instance, safety, privacy, intellectual property, information quality concerns, and so forth).”

Palfrey advocates using both capital-P Policy (enforceable statues and regulations) and lowercase-p policy (behaviors and attitudes fostered by parents and teachers), to encourage teens to act responsibly on the Internet.

This creates a tension, particularly given Palfrey’s focus on the problem of privacy. What kinds of statutes and regulations does Palfrey imagine “protecting” the youth users of social media?  Are they the kinds of rules that would mandate Internet education, empower users to control who can access their data, or prohibit certain kinds of speech?

And, while Palfrey’s focus remains on teens and the propensity to act recklessly with technology, it isn’t like the grown-ups have a flawless track record (see: Brett Farve, Chris Lee).

Photo courtesy of Bob G. on flickr.