Be aware of how much of your kids’ data is being shared in 2019

by Screen Time Team on 03/01/2019
We take it as a given that our phones are ours, that we control what they do and how they do it. But the truth is very different.

Smart choices lead to safer kids.

Our phones, and the phones our kids use, are often collecting and sending out enormous amounts of data. While the idea of a child being tracked by somebody who means them harm is almost completely a Hollywood fantasy, there are other concerns to consider. For example, marketing that targets children and forms a “profile” of them before they’re adults who know what they want. But while you can’t entirely block data collection, you can tightly control it.

Control App Installs

Parental control apps can help you control app installs, which is a big part of the privacy battle. A shocking number of apps thrive not on ads or even sales, but on collecting data about you without your knowledge and sending it to third parties. The only truly effective way to prevent it is to carefully limit the number of apps downloaded to a specific phone, especially apps that are designed to appeal to kids. Use software to block certain types of apps, such as free games, and have a process in place for your family to discuss which apps they want to download.

Look At App Permissions And Phone Settings

Major app stores will have a set of “permissions” you agree to when installing the app, and any app your children want to download should be scrutinized closely. It’s a safe bet that the more permissions the app wants, such as access to your photos, access to your location, and similar data, the more likely it is to be collecting and selling that information to the highest bidder. If you don’t like the permissions an app is requesting, it’s better to leave it on the digital shelf unless it’s absolutely necessary. You can also cut apps off at the pass by disabling certain features, like Bluetooth and GPS, using iPhone parental controls or Android settings.

 

Protect their privacy.

Limit Online Time

Another way to control data collection is to limit how often kids use their phones. You likely already have rules in place that limit phone use over family dinner, during homework time, and after bed. This may already be enough to keep data collection to a minimum, but if you’re considering putting in limits, this will just be another incentive.

Teach Children About Data

Knowledge is the best defense against anyone who wants to exploit you, so kids should be taught from an early age how these systems work, why they do what they do, and how to defend against them. The most insidious thing about this data collection was that it was done, to some degree, with our consent and by small degrees. One app, by itself, can’t get enough data on you to matter. Hundreds of apps constantly gathering data is another matter entirely.

Teaching kids to be smart consumers is always time well spent, and as they understand the people selling them things are not their friends, they’ll develop good habits and critical thinking around products of all sorts, not just apps. If you’d like the ability to remotely approve any apps before they are downloaded by your child onto their device, Try Screen Time for Free!

 

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The 10 most popular kids apps for Android

by Screen Time Team on 18/06/2018
With so much discovery to be made online, and so many kids' apps to choose from, it can seem near impossible for us parents to keep up with our kids’ digital habits. One day they are chatting to their friends on Snapchat, and the next they’re on Instagram sharing carefully edited pictures of their #breakfast.
Tween girl on a tablet

Photo credit: Patricia Prudente

As the summer break looms, now is as good a time as any to get app savvy before your kids disappear behind their devices. For example, it’s no good blocking their Minecraft app at ‘homework time’ if their new obsession is dodging trains on Subway Surfers.

So, in the spirit of being ‘down with the kids’ and keeping on top of our kids’ digital lives, we did a bit of digging into the apps that are currently being installed by Screen Time families. Then we split them into 3 groups of top ten apps – Entertainment apps; Social Apps and Gaming apps. We found some of the results surprising. Check them out for yourself.

Top 10 most popular Entertainment Apps

It’s no surprise to see that YouTube is by far the most popular entertainment app among Screen Time kids. What is surprising is it has had 79% more installs than Netflix. And don’t forget, the Screen Time app allows parents to monitor kids tablets too. Even more interesting, the YouTube Kids app appears much further down the list at No. 6. A possible indication of a lack of awareness of a kids version of YouTube perhaps? (Never heard of YouTube Kids? There’s a handy parents guide to it here.)

  1. YouTube
  2. Spotify
  3. Netflix
  4. Bitmoji
  5. Amazon Kindle
  6. YouTube Kids
  7. Shazam
  8. Sandbox – Color By Numbering Pages
  9. Pixel Art – Color By Numbers
  10. Amazon Prime Video

Top 10 most popular Social Apps

Move over Snapchat, and make way for the more grown up social app contenders! Whatsapp is by far the most installed social app by Screen Time users, with a whopping 69% more installs than Facebook Messenger. And with Instagram bagging 25% more downloads by kids than any other social media apps, could this mean the end is nigh for Snapchat?

  1. WhatsApp
  2. Instagram
  3. Facebook
  4. Skype
  5. Snapchat
  6. Facebook Messenger
  7. Musical.ly
  8. Twitter
  9. Group Play
  10. Pinterest

Top 10 most popular Gaming Apps.

With Minecraft at the top spot, there is no great surprise here. But with Clash Royale and Subway Surfers only slightly behind, Minecraft might not stay on top for much longer.

  1. Minecraft Pocket Edition
  2. Clash Royale
  3. Subway Surfers
  4. Roblox
  5. Clash Of Clans
  6. Slither.io
  7. Helix Jump
  8. Pokemon GO
  9. Rider
  10. Love Balls
Teenage girls on phone selfie

Photo Credit: Elijah O’Donell

So there you have it. If you wanted some extra guidance on the world of kids’ apps, you might find this post useful: 5 apps you need to talk about with your teenagers.

Remember, with the Screen Time app, parents receive a notification every time their child tries to download a new app. So next time you get a request to download one of the above, you can surprise your kids with your amazing app knowledge!

If you think you might benefit from having this feature, Go Premium today!

 

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