The Digital Age of Consent.

Something came to me this weekend when I was sitting at home playing Call of Duty 4 on my PS3, the world has changed. It took me all this time to figure it out, but I am pretty sure the world is not the same place I grew up in.

Let me set the stage for you: I was playing COD4, not doing so well, when I began to swear. I was in the Navy so I swear like a sailor, then a voice came over my headset and began to speak to me.

“LaFauce,” the voice said. “Could you please not use that language here, my son is playing the game and I try not to expose him to that type of language.” I had to pause, I was playing probably one of the most intense and violent games on the market today, and someone was reprimanding me for my language.

After talking with the voice for a bit I found out that the parents monitor what the child is playing online by watching him play. They then comment on anything inappropriate or tell the child he can no longer play if the room becomes obscene. The child was 14.

There was a great deal wrong with this entire interaction. One one hand I applaud the parents for monitoring what their child does online, but who lets a 14 year old play Call of Duty? Then to reprimand me for using foul language just seemed moronic.

I assumed everyone one playing that game was of at least the age where I could use foul language around them. What if I had said somethings that were really offensive, could the parents have found a way to say I was corrupting their child?

I think about it like this: When I go to a bar I assume everyone there is 21. Now if I say something inappropriate or do something inappropriate I at least I have the law on my side saying that I am surrounded by adults and I am not corrupting any youth.

The world has changed, just as we manage who can vote, own a fire arm, and drink, perhaps we should regulate who uses social networks. Already we have standards set up to control who visits what sites, should social networks have the same standards? Could we legally regulate who goes where on the web?

I spend a great deal of time online and I worry constantly about who I interact with. Do any of you out there feel the same way? Are any of you afraid of saying the wrong thing or sending the wrong email to someone?