Special Segments

Privacy Protection: Kids and Apps

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One recent study found that kids are spending on average 53 hours a week consuming some type of media, whether it's TV, Internet or using an app.

What about those apps? Are they getting any information from our kids? Brad Spirrison with Appolicious answers those questions.

Concerns/Dangers/What Parents Need to Know

1) Apps that collect personal information from users, including information on everyone in their address books. Popular social network Path earlier this month got fined $800K for this practice.

2) User-generated video apps, most recently Vine (owned by Twitter) that have access to pornography and other inappropriate videos. Last month, a Vine editor inadvertently featured a nefarious video in prominent recommendations. Apple pulled Vine from its own list of recommended apps shortly thereafter.

3) Apps that gather Geolocation data multiple times (as opposed to just one-time per its notification warning)

4) Apps that allow registration to users who indicated they were under 13 and didn't have permission from parents.

5) Apps that link to social networks without advance notice, as well as questionable advertisers and ad-tracking companies.

6) Apps that promote "in-app" transactions without prior notice.

A good summary of above issues here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/kidsapp.shtm

How parents can protect online privacy

1) In a perfect world, and more realistic for younger children, participate in the process of researching, downloading and sampling desired applications before authorizing use.

2) In the real world, set up just one account in the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store and other mobile app stores. Not only will you see what apps your kids are downloading on that account, but, most notably with Apple devices, additional copies of the apps can be downloaded to your own iDevice if you have one. You can sample yourself and make the determination as to whether the app is safe and legit.

3) Understand the differences between the stores. Apple, while not perfect, is the safest environment as all apps go through a rigid approval process before they hit the store. The Google Play store allows any app to be released, and they only pull if there is malware, or illegal/hugely objectionable content.

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