80% of American Parents Worry About Childrens’ Online Privacy, but Only 48% Monitor Activity Regularly
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Pixalate, the market-leading fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform for Mobile Advertising and Connected Television (CTV), announced the results of a Harris Poll survey examining American parents’ views about children’s online privacy. The survey found that less than half of parents of children under 13 (48%) say they monitor their children’s activities on apps daily, while more than one-fifth (21%) say they never check to see if those apps track their children’s precise GPS location.
Despite those numbers, 80% of parents say they worry about their children’s privacy when using those apps, with 73% saying they’re concerned about their children’s location being tracked. The results are particularly alarming because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires app operators to provide notice about data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children.
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“The Harris Poll results should be a wake-up call considering the two largest app stores — Google Play and Apple — only provide a target age range for 200 apps at a time,” said Jalal Nasir, CEO of Pixalate. “Pixalate’s research shows there are nearly 400,000 child-directed apps in the Google and Apple app stores, about 40% of which collect sensitive data like geolocation. These poll results beg the question of whether the app operators are doing this with parental consent as required by COPPA.”
The issue is of clear national importance; President Biden recognized it as such in his March 1 State of the Union Address when he said, “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, [and] demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.”
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“This has been a growing issue for some time, and President Biden’s remarks further validated that,” said Allison Lefrak, Pixalate’s SVP of Public Policy, Ad Privacy, and COPPA Compliance. Lefrak leads Pixalate’s new Trust and Safety Advisory Board, which is made up of qualified educators and reviews and assesses whether apps are child-directed through the lens of the COPPA Rule on an ongoing basis.
Google and Apple provide content ratings for each app, but these cannot be used to determine whether an app targets children under 13. With this case, both companies vastly under disclose the total number of apps directed at children in their stores, which Pixalate estimates to be more than 375,000 as of the end of 2021. To help advertisers and app developers determine whether apps are directed to children, Pixalate recently released a new mobile apps report – Google vs. Apple COPPA Scorecard (Children’s Privacy): Q4 2021 – containing analysis on child-directed mobile apps across the Google and Apple app stores.