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Are online apps illegally marketing to your children?

marketing apps to children

Photo credit: Canva.com

You and the Law

Mobile app video games are a big attraction for children, and with winter weather and COVID-19 precautions keeping them indoors more, your child may be spending additional time online. But even if the games are age appropriate for your child, there are other risks to your child’s privacy and to your bank account.

A recent survey by the Federal Trade Commission found that kids’ apps might collect and share personal information, let your children spend real money even if the app is free to download, include ads, and link the app to social media.

Marketers who observe your child’s online activity can learn your child’s preferences and then send ads through the app targeted to your child. This is illegal if it is done without obtaining proper parental consent.

The Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act requires app developers and website operators to provide notice about their data collection practices. They must also obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information online from children.
Not all marketers do this.

To protect your child’s privacy, the FTC recommends that you help your child understand that Social Security numbers, street addresses, phone numbers and financial information need to stay private.

What else can you do? The best protection is to try the app yourself. At the app store, look at screen shots of the app. Read the description, content rating and user reviews. Look for outside reviews from sources you respect. Download the app and play with
your kids to see what they will experience online.

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