We recently discussed how a study revealed how many apps share collected personal information about our children with third parties – without our consent.
Since the apps in the study weren’t named, it’s hard to know which ones to watch out for. However, we can all do something to help protect our children. Not only from unwanted sharing of personal information (as much as we can), but from apps that have hidden costs – the app might be free, but the ‘purchasing’ of magic coins, or opening up new levels may not be – as well as from apps that allow your child to connect and play with adults over the phone or the tablet.
- Check The App Out – It may seem silly, but a lot of parents just do a quick online check to make sure the app is suitable for kids. They check the app rating, read the description and perhaps the comments. You need to physically check the app out yourself. Download it to your phone and play with it. This way you’ll be able to see just how suitable it is, and if it asks for information you don’t think is needed, and if there are hidden costs.
- Turn Off Location – Smartphones come with location apps built in. This means the phone can be tracked and located, no matter where it is. But you can easily switch this feature off, so the phone is no longer trackable. Of course, depending on whether you use an app like FeelSecure, you may want to have your child turn it on in certain circumstances, like when they’re away or out for the evening. You can come to an arrangement where certain apps aren’t used when the location app is on.
- Read The Fine Print – Sure, it’s boring to read through all the terms and conditions on apps. But as about one in five apps list they share information collected to third parties, you will be able to weed out some of the apps with questionable practices.
- Have A Special Household Email Account – Whether online or on the phone, many sites and online stores (and apps) ask for an email address. If you have one specifically set up for the entire family to use, you’ll be able to keep advertising emails targeted towards your child away from your child, and you’ll be able to have a little extra help in tracking your child’s online movements.
- All Apps To Be Approved By You – This is a very simple concept, but very effective. If your child is under 18, then all apps to be used are subject to your approval. If you don’t think it’s suitable, or you’re unsure about the app’s practice of information sharing, or it has hidden costs, then the app isn’t to be used.
Of course, writing to your local member about your concerns over the non-consensual sharing of personal information, and contacting an app developer for more information about its practices in regards to data collection and sharing, you may be able to get further in stopping this unwanted practice.
But until then, these top five ways will definitely be a firm step forward in protecting your children.