Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin offers advice for keeping children safe online
The average child spends 2-7½ hours online every day. As a new, younger generation increasingly use their mobile device to gather and share information, BBB warns parents that some of those mobile applications may be siphoning children’s data. In many cases, developers are not disclosing whether data is being collected, with whom it is being shared or how it is used.
“Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures still not making the grade”, a report put together by the Federal Trade Commission, found that 59% (235 of the 400) apps transmitted some information from a user’s mobile device back to the developer or to a third-party. The data collected and shared can include the child’s location, telephone number, contacts, device ID and other information contained on the mobile device.
Additionally, according to the FTC, some applications offer the ability to make purchases and provide links to social media “without disclosing these features prior to download.” Of the 400 apps reviewed, only 20% contained any privacy-related disclosure on the app’s promotion page, on the developer website or within the app.
BBB Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) is here to help parents control what gets advertised to their child while they watch television, listen to the radio and surf the Web.
If you’ve seen an ad on a child’s mobile device, on television or on a child-oriented website, aimed at children under 13 that you think is inappropriate, it can be reported to CARU. BBB will evaluate and review the content. Many advertisers clear their ads before they air to be sure they are offering a responsible message.
Protect your kids from the information they are viewing and gathering by following this advice from BBB:
- Change settings on devices. Restrict content to what’s right for your child’s age. Set a password so apps can’t be downloaded without parental permission. This will also keep children from being able to purchase from the app without permission.
- Control sharing. Determine whether applications allow young users to post their own content to social media sites and decide whether it is appropriate to allow your children to do so before downloading an app.
- File a complaint with CARU. If you find a problem with advertising or a children’s website content report it to CARU. CARU’s basic activities are the review and evaluation of child-directed advertising in all media, and online privacy practices as they affect children. When these are found to be misleading, inaccurate or inconsistent with CARU’s guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers.