Apps can extract personal information from your phone or tablet. Why, for example, does that spelling app for your preschooler need your location data? Why does a mapping app need your contacts?
You can stop personal information leaks via apps and teach your children smartphone safety at the same time. Discover together how to nip hi-tech privacy problems in the bud.
When you learn something new about settings or apps, share it with your kids. In addition, invite them to share their discoveries with you.
- If you think an app has collected information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
- In the app store/platform, read reviews. Learn what other users say about the app to see if there are any known issues or concerns.
- Common Sense Media rates apps for age-appropriateness. They also provide information on privacy and security. www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews
- If you use an Android phone, consider using an app blocker to stop children from using apps without your permission.
- If you have an Apple device, use the Restrictions settings. These are found in Settings, then General. You can disable access to the Internet, to the iTunes store, even to apps by age-level. You can also disable disable in-app purchases. This will stop children from paying for “powers” and other items in game apps.
Get more straight-talk on smartphone and app safety from the California Attorney General. Visit and share Getting Smart About Smartphones: Tips for Parents.
- App blockers: NetNanny, available at www.netnanny.com/mobile, AppLock and Smart AppLock, both available in the GooglePlay store.
- App Reviews, Common Sense Media, available at www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews.
- “The Best Mobile Security Apps,” PC Magazine (May 2012), available at www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402099,00.asp