FAQs: Apps and Your Child's Data

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How popular are children’s apps?

The market for children's apps and games for mobile devices is booming. In 2013, the Association for Competitive Technology, which represents app developers, estimated that there were 48,000 developers working on children's apps.

Do children’s apps feature advertising?

Yes, and in increasing numbers. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of apps featuring advertising jumped from 7% to 15%. A report from the Federal Trade Commission showed that in 2012, 50% of children's apps contained advertising, but only 9% disclosed that advertising before download.

When a child downloads or uses an app, does the app transmit personal data from the device?

In many cases, yes. The 2012 FTC study found that about 60% of apps transmitted data from the device, mainly to advertising networks, analytics services, and other third parties.

How can I ensure that the apps my child downloads and uses are age-appropriate?

Some mobile apps stores offer their own rating systems, while others use a system jointly designed by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and CTIA-The Wireless Association. Their system divides games into three categories based on content: Everyone, Teen, and Mature (17+).

Is there any legal protection for the information children share via apps?

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act & Rule (COPPA), established in 2000, protects children's information online, including apps. COPPA applies to sites and apps aimed at children under 13, as well as general audience sites that collect information from children under 13. Under COPPA, sites and apps must:

  • Obtain verifiable parental approval before collecting, using, or disclosing a child's personal information, including the child's name, address, phone number, email address, and location, as well as photos, videos, and audio recordings of the child; plus identifiers like IP address
  • Post a privacy policy
  • Provide parents direct notice of their information practices
  • Honor parents' rights with respect to information collected from their children
  • Implement procedures to protect any information they collect
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Funded by a partnership with the Texas Legislature, and powered by the Center for Identity, IDWise is a resource center for the public on identity theft, fraud, and privacy. IDWise offers clear and accessible resources to empower citizens—both online and offline—to be better informed and make smarter choices to protect their personal information.

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Funded by a partnership with the Texas Legislature, and powered by the Center for Identity, IDWise is a resource center for the public on identity theft, fraud, and privacy.

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