When kids need to be entertained and parents are desperate
for a break, everyone looks to their nearest screen. TVs, computers and mobile
devices are go-to destinations for help in keeping the horizon quiet. They’re
also perfect platforms for pulling personal information.
A few weeks ago, YouTube and its parent company, Google, made
headlines after agreeing
to pay $170 million to settle allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission
that the video-sharing website collected children’s personal information
without their parents’ consent. Among the complaints filed by the FTC, YouTube
allegedly marketed itself to advertisers as popular with kids and tracked the
viewing history of their younger audiences so they could inundate them with
The FTC considers YouTube’s behavior a violation of
children’s privacy laws. It also serves as the latest unfortunate reminder that
what kids watch online isn’t always looking out for their best interests.
Keeping your kids safe as they navigate the internet can be
an ongoing and increasingly tough task. However, BBB offers some basics that
can help rein in unruly actions on the web.
- See for yourself. Try to visit the
websites your kids visit. You can see firsthand the kinds of information these
sites may be collecting and allows their users to share. It’s also an
opportunity to see what, if any, privacy policies are in place.
- Have a conversation. Talking with your
kids about how to interact online is one of the most effective ways of spotting
and avoiding websites designed to collect and then misuse personal information.
Have a discussion on the downside of sharing information online and lay out
steps to take if they feel their information is being used harmfully.
- Find a filter. Establishing parental
settings can ensure your kids aren’t encountering websites that jeopardize
their personal information. Many TVs, mobile devices and operating devices come
with built in filters that allow you to curate the online destinations your
kids can access.
- Take action. If you come across a website
you feel is wrongly marketing to your kids or has potentially taken their
personal information without your consent, make sure to report it. Issuing your
directly to the Better Business Bureau can prevent other parents and kids
from encountering the same issues.
Screen time is a prime time for underhanded tactics
targeting kids, including on some of the most mainstream sites in the internet.
Be aware of the pitfalls to keep your kids’ personal information out of the