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Warning: Mobile Apps for Kids Are Secretly Collecting and Tracking Data

jfiess via flickr

A recent study from the Federal Trade Commission has found that most mobile apps for kids are secretly collecting data from their smartphones.  Depending on the App, the type of data that’s being collected is everything from behavior, web browsing habits to phone numbers, GPS location and device ID’s.

Should this concern you?  Well, yes and no… or maybe. To consider anything that you do online as private anymore is a joke.  How many times have you changed your Facebook settings to private just to see someone who’s not on your friends list “like” one of your pictures.  If it’s online, whether by a device or a computer, it’s “out there” and that includes stuff that our kids are doing.

Should you be scared?  Again… yes and no… or maybe.  The primary reason why this information is collected is so that companies can market to you (in this case your kids.)  They are collecting information to try to get into the heads of consumers.  The more they learn about you, the better they can target their messages to the intended audience and the more stuff they can sell you.  Is that harmful?  Not really.  But it still feels a bit invasive.  And what if that very personal information fell into the wrong hands?  We could go on for days spouting big brother scenarios.

How can you prevent this tracking and sharing of your kids’ information?  The only way you can truly prevent it is to unplug.  Get rid of the computer and smart phone.  Delete your Facebook account and stop using email and texting.  Or you could spend time reading the fine print on the apps to make sure that the information gathered isn’t shared.  But if privacy is really a big issue to you, I’m afraid you’re going to have to unplug.  Do you really want to trust your privacy to a setting or a policy that could change at any second?

In the end, it’s up to you to decide.  I choose to be online and I let my kids online.  I also try to educate them that nothing they say or do online should be considered private and they should be very mindful about what they put out there.  In today’s digital world, there just isn’t any way to pull the blinds to keep the world out.

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