While many apps targeted towards children might seem harmless, there are many that track your children’s data, and potentially sell it on to third parties you’d rather they weren’t interacting with.
A new study by Uswitch has revealed which apps and games are the most and least child friendly based on how much personal data they collect.
The study reveals that ‘Sandwich Runner’ is the children’s app that collects the most data about our kids. The food game, aimed at the ages of 12 and above, involves making lots of sandwiches by gathering various ingredients and getting them in, a giant mouth.
The app tracks 14 pieces of data which are linked to personal details, including the player’s name, age, location and more. A further 13 data points are used to track users across the internet, which could involve seeing what other sites your children access and using that information to sell to them elsewhere.
At the other end of the scale, Doodle Kids is the most child-friendly app. This creative colouring game is aimed at children from 4 years old and upwards. It teaches them all about colour combinations and doesn’t collect any data when they do so.
Says Catherine Hiley, broadband expert at Uswitch.com:
“Setting parental controls is a great way to protect your kids from harmful online content.
“To set parental controls on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings and then Screen Time. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions before choosing a Screen Time passcode. Then tap Content Restrictions and Web Content, before deciding on Unrestricted Access, Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only.”
“On Android devices, go to the Google Play app and the profile icon. Tap Settings Family and turn on Parental Controls, then create a PIN that only you know. Finally, select the type of content you want to restrict. “
“Parental controls work by filtering keywords, such as gambling, adult, violence or bad language, meaning that sort of content can only be seen by people with the required access code.
“You can also use parental controls to limit the amount of time your child spends on their device or on a particular app. Don’t let them download apps on your phone without you, and read the reviews of any apps to make sure they really are as child-friendly as they promise.
These apps track your children the most:
Sandwich Runner ranks as the least child-friendly app
The food game, aimed at the ages of 12 and above, involves making lots of sandwiches by gathering various ingredients and getting them in, a giant mouth. The app tracks 14 pieces of data which are linked to personal details, including the player’s name, age, location and more. A further 13 data points are used to track users across the internet, which could involve seeing what other sites your children access and using that information to sell to them elsewhere.
8 Ball Pool collects 7 pieces of data
This simple pool game might look harmless enough, but whilst your children plays they will be targeted with ads. It collects seven pieces of personal data and six pieces of tracking data, along with three bits of non-linked data, which is usually used to understand how people interact with the game. The game also allows in-app messaging, and while chat options are limited, it might still mean your children are talking to people much older than them.
Water Sort Puzzle rounds off the top 3
This colour sorting game sounds simple enough however collects a total of 14 pieces of data while you do. Often it’s the most basic games that will collect the most information, as it depends on selling it to fund its operation. If you wonder why so many adverts are popping up on your phone, it’s because the game you’re playing needs them to stay operational.
Duolingo is the top non-gaming app
Duolingo is the top non-gaming app to make the list, as it gathers 19 pieces of data while teaching you different languages. While the vast majority of this data is used to harness your learning experience and make the app work better, some of it is used for advertising, the manner of which the app has no control over.
Text or Die closes out the top 5
13 pieces of data are gathered by the game Text or Die. The game encourages you to type faster than an online opponent, or (as the name suggests) die. It’s not as violent as it sounds, but it might still not be ideal for younger users.
These apps track your children the least:
Doodle Kids is the most child-friendly app. This creative colouring game is aimed at children from 4 years old and upwards. It teaches them all about colour combinations and doesn’t collect any data when they do so.
Baby colouring books keep your kids entertained and safe
Baby colouring books follows a similar path but is aimed at even younger players. Children can colour in playful characters, tell stories and have fun, all without any data being collected.
Baby games for 2,3,4 year olds rounds off the top 3
Baby games helps your young kids learn all about shapes, food, colours and more with 15 interactive games that get little minds thinking creatively. Similarly, this fun game does not track any data.
Baby Piano is the perfect music education app
Baby piano teaches them basic rhythm and notes, as well as great hand-eye coordination. None of these apps collect any data from your children, meaning you can continue their educational development with confidence in their data security.
Hello Neighbours is more suitable for older kids
Hello Neighbours is designed for slightly older children. It’s effectively a murder mystery style game, which means it might be a little scary for younger players. We’d advise playing it together to be safe.