Kids are by nature very inquisitive, and with the overwhelming array of mobile apps aimed at kids nowadays, a few words of caution are just in order.
Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued an infographic as a useful visual tool for parents and consumers, in general about mobile apps for iPhones, Androids and other mobile devices accessible to children.
Four things apps might do (but won’t tell you)
The infographic based on an FTC study warns of four things that mobile apps might do but stealthily keep from your knowledge.
They might collect and share personal information.
- According to the infographic, 59% of mobile apps in the market share your personal information but only 11% tell you so. The study includes apps from the iTunes store and Google Play that “failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection and who would obtain access to the data.”
- They might let your kids spend real money even if the app is free. – Eighty-four percent (84%) of kids’ apps that allow purchases within the app are free. While the app itself may be free, it can be used as platform to launch ads.
- The mobile apps may include ads. – Kids’ apps that include ads are listed at 58%, but only 9% lets you know they do.
- They might link to social media. – Yes, 22% of mobile apps for kids do link to social media, but only 9% tells you upfront, much less to whom personal information may be shared with by the app.
Now, those figures may be just fine with some but for those who would like to go further, here are a few tips to protect your little ones and yourself on using mobile apps for kids.
Set limitations. Change the settings on your phone. Make sure that if your kids are using a mobile app, they can’t inadvertently access any unwanted features. One of the best ways to do this is to use the mobile app alongside the kid. This will let you see the full scope of the application.
Know what the app is for. Apps that are free to download are usually released for advertising purposes. Unexpected pages may pop up even without permission. Often, free apps allow users to make purchases with real money.
Monitor the information shared by your child. One can never be too careful on this regard. You can look into the amount of information shared by your child over the app by using the app yourself. If you are not comfortable with it, discontinue using the app.