It's a strange, strange time to be a teenager in the United States. Your spiritual leader is Jaden Smith. You spend much of your day answering phone calls from reporters writing stories about Snapchat. And your every embarrassing moment is exhaustively documented on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook—if you're lucky. Reddit, if you're not. That's Teen Living in 2013. It's a minefield.
In California, at least, things are changing. Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that lets anyone under the age of 18 demand website owners—be they social networks or blogs—take down incriminating photos or text of a minor. This is the first such law passed in the country, and it goes into effect January of 2015. Speedy!
The law is meant to help out 15-year-olds who don't want the tagged photo of that first night trying Jungle Juice to live on forever and ever online. And it has other motives. Says Eileen Espejo, director of media and health policy for a nonprofit in Oakland: “I think this will hopefully give adolescents in particular some pause. Think about what you put on a website … because it can live on beyond you.”
(But isn't the law actually giving teens a way out? Anyway.)
Kids will be kids and the Internet has complicated that, so, yeah, California seems to have the right idea here. Most of us who found Facebook late are probably grateful we never have to see a record of our early teens.