How do I use Stack Exchange if I'm under 13?
Unfortunately, children under 13 are not allowed to sign up for Stack Exchange accounts. If you are under 13, and are trying to participate, first off, we're sorry. It's awesome that you're already trying to help others learn, and it's frustrating to us that (well-intentioned) legal issues make it challenging. We'd encourage you to work with your parent or legal guardian, who can set up an account and use it with you, or establish other appropriate ways to use the site as a family.
Why is this restriction in place?
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act requires that websites cannot collect personal information from children under the age of 13, including "full name, home address, email address, telephone number or any other information that would allow someone to identify or contact the child."
Since Stack Exchange, during the registration process, allows users to enter their name, email address, and website URLs where other users might be able to contact the user, Stack Exchange is legally obligated to follow this law.
If you want to change it without doing one of the above you'll need to do one of the following:
- Get Stack Overflow to accept parental/guardian permission for individual accounts, since as long as the parent agrees, COPPA allows websites to collect such information. (Note: It's really, really expensive/hard to comply with these rules, which is why almost no sites do it unless their target audience is mostly underage, like DisneyGo.)
- Lobby the US Congress to change COPPA to allow your usage of the site.
I'm under 13 and I created an account. What will happen?
Your account will be deleted and all information you provided will be removed from our servers. You can create a new account once you turn 13, or follow the procedures above to have your parent/guardian create an account. While you will be able to participate in Stack Exchange again, unfortunately, we cannot reinstate your old account, so any reputation you gained on your old account will be gone.
But I'm not in the United States!
Stack Exchange is based in the United States, and is therefore subject to U.S. law, including the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Consequently, you must be 13 or older to create an account with us, even if there is no such provision in the laws of your country.
I spotted a user who is under 13. What should I do?
You don't have to do anything. Users and moderators are not legally responsible for underage users and are under no obligation to report them to us. If out of concern you would like to report it, send us a report via our contact form and we will take action.