Clark Howard: Do you know how your kids are being tracked with their devices?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Our personal information is being collected every day on every device we use. But it is not just the information companies collect, kids are also being tracked.

Consumer Advisor Clark Howard Clark shows us what you can do right now to protect a child’s privacy.

Howard says it’s something that drives him crazy – as a parent all the ways our kids are being tracked, even in toys. So, we parents are the ones that must step in and stop it.

Dolls that allow strangers to listen in, criminals gaining access to your kids through video games, and now companies using the microphones and even the keystrokes on your child’s device to collect personal data.

Haley Viente is a parent and is pretty strict when it comes to what her son Blake can do with his devices. “Being a mom to a 15-year-old teenager can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Blake Maiden who is a social media user said, “I’ll see my friends doing things and I won’t be allowed to do it, so it’s kind of frustrating.”

He said while he’s not as tech-savvy as most of his friends, he does use social media without putting too much thought into what information is being collected.

Howard asked the mother/son duo to figure out what the apps on Blake’s phone had permission to do. “Okay so he has one, two, three, four, five apps that are listening to him,” Viente said.

Willis McDonald is a security researcher and said, “There are a lot of complicated privacy policies out there,” He said it’s on the parent to search these policies for answers, but “even though they’re saying not doing one thing with your information, in a whole separate section, it basically negates that.”

According to a 2023 Harvard study, social media companies brought in nearly $11 billion in advertising from users under 18 in 2022.

Titania Jordan who is the Chief Parenting Officer and Founder of Bark Technologies said, “We need to educate children about PII that’s personally identifiable information. The less PII you give someone, any digital or physical entity, the better”

Bark Technologies allows parents to track their kid’s online activity.

“The power that these devices and social media entities and games the streaming platforms have over our children is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Jordan said.

The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act take direct aim at companies using kid’s data for advertising.

There are ways to protect your child. McDonald said besides turning off location services and microphones on devices and computers, parents need to look for input accessibility and screen recording.

“Screen recording actually allows somebody to watch what your child is doing. Accessibility and input monitoring have the ability or give the ability for someone to monitor keystrokes. So what your child is typing in,” McDonald said.

As a parent, all of this can seem overwhelming, but there is a big payoff to you getting involved and stopping the tracking of your kids.