It's important for children to understand that laws aren't written in stone and that if they dislike a law they can work to change it. Feeling helpless and acting helpless isn't in the best interest of anyone's child or our children's generation as a whole.
The point of civil disobedience is to get the law changed. By quietly lying about your age, you're doing the opposite, you're making it harder to get the law changed. Civil disobedience is about adding friction to the system as an incentive to change the law. By doing something nobody can notice you're adding grease.
It's not civil disobedience if nobody notices what you're doing. It's not civil disobedience if you aren't inconveniencing people in power.
By lying about your age, you're breaking the law purely for selfish benefit, which is not the lesson a parent wants to teach a child.
Sacrificing himself by following the law, and spreading the story widely as the author and his son have done will do much more to get the law changed.
The point of civil disobedience is to appeal to people's consciences, to call out a wrong far greater than your law-breaking, and to willingly open yourself to prosecution in order to make that point. (That's why Anonymous isn't committing civil disobedience until they turn themselves in and allow themselves to be on trial in order to call attention to the unalloyed benefit to society they seem to think they're providing.)
I don't see how Google's disallowing ten year olds to have Gmail accounts is a wrong: it seems more like a simple business decision in the face of a law that's designed to keep companies from preying on ten year olds by inundating them with marketing.
We all know the poster's child is special, but for all of the kids who aren't the offspring of übermenshen, this is a fight that maybe's not worth fighting.
My brother doesn't type fast, he doesn't know how to code python. He does immensely enjoy minecraft, and he does use google. Honestly, for him, the ability to find something using google, going through the immensely difficult task of correctly typing a search term and then parsing the search result is a massive achievement.
All that said, to suggest that he shouldn't be allowed his gmail account, given the immense amount of effort it took for him to learn to use it, is not something I'm willing to stomach.
Its part of the internet, and he is well and truly a member of the internet generation. Its something he should have every right to grow up immersed in.
That the internet is made of advertising is no reason to deny our children access.
Not really. The reason it seems fuzzy is that the modern US government likes to offload its regulations onto corporations and other entities. In the interest of "protecting" children, they subject online service providers to penalties for allowing children access. In turn, these services must restrict access by children in order to protect themselves from the government.
Thus, although the direct object of the action is Google -- a corporation -- it really is an act against the nanny state.
"... the face of a law that's designed to keep companies from preying on ten year olds by inundating them with marketing."
Then why ban 13 year-olds but allow mentally retarded 14 year-olds? Because this law, like all based on condition of birth, is about domination and control for political ends.
"People seem to have no idea what civil disobedience is."
It is breaking a law because you were born free. You don't have to have an axe to grind.
However, I definitely see your point that quietly lying about his age is likely not the best way to get the law changed.
My point was that if you see something that is obviously wrong and it's caused by a well intended law you have a responsibility to do something. I admit I'm something of a freedom zealot so my view on what corporations and especially the government can restrict you from doing is broad in general, but clearly this is a good learning opportunity about what to do if you're faced with a "buggy program" (aka a law).
"Research ... showed that young children cannot understand the potential effects of revealing their personal information; neither can they distinguish between substantive material on websites and the advertisements surrounding it. While some parents tried to monitor their children's use of the Internet services, many of them failed due to lack of time, computer skills, or awareness of risk. ... 'a Los Angeles television station reported that it obtained a detailed computer printout of the ages and addresses of 5,500 children living in Pasadena simply by sending $277 to a Chicago database firm.'"
(Yes, I am joking.)
If they can require my bank to double up on the login confirmations, they can require services to provide a reasonable way to let parents give their consent.
the only lesson is see coming out of this, if they go the route you are suggesting, is that civil disobedience is futile.