Monday, October 1st, 2012
New rules designed to protect children online are the most comprehensive in more than a decade, regulators from the Federal Trade Commission are saying. The New York Times reports:
The moves come at a time when major corporations, app developers and data miners appear to be collecting information about the online activities of millions of young Internet users without their parents’ awareness, children’s advocates say. Some sites and apps have also collected details like children’s photographs or locations of mobile devices; the concern is that the information could be used to identify or locate individual children.
These data-gathering practices are legal. But the development has so alarmed officials at the Federal Trade Commission that the agency is moving to overhaul rules that many experts say have not kept pace with the explosive growth of the Web and innovations like mobile apps. New rules are expected within weeks.
“Today, almost every child has a computer in his pocket and it’s that much harder for parents to monitor what their kids are doing online, who they are interacting with, and what information they are sharing,” says Mary K. Engle, associate director of the advertising practices division at the F.T.C. “The concern is that a lot of this may be going on without anybody’s knowledge.”
The proposed changes could greatly increase the need for children’s sites to obtain parental permission for some practices that are now popular — like using cookies to track users’ activities around the Web over time. Marketers argue that the rule should not be changed so extensively, lest it cause companies to reduce their offerings for children.
Image: Child using computer, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Researchers at the University of South Carolina and George Washington University medical schools have analyzed the search results that parents get when searching for common child health-related phrases including “infant sleep position” and “infant cigarette smoking,” and discovered that a high proportion of the results contain medically inaccurate information. The Boston Globe has more:
About 57 percent of the sites provided either inaccurate or irrelevant information, while 43 percent were accurate.
The search words “infant cigarette smoking,” “infant sleep position,” and “infant sleep surface,” were most likely to produce results with accurate information. Government and organizational websites were the most accurate. Sites that contained inaccurate information were mostly blogs, retail product sites, and independent websites. News sites had accurate information about half of the time.
Image: Family with laptop, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Only two percent of parents report feeling severe guilt for allowing their children to use tablets and other mobile tech devices, according to a new study released today by the app development company Ruckus Media Group and the research company Play Science.
The findings, which were presented at the Sandbox Summit at MIT, are based on a national online survey of 300 parents of 4-8-year-old children. All of the parents surveyed have computers in their homes, 78 percent have smartphones, and 65 percent have tablet devices.
The study found that 56 percent of parents feel “some guilt” for letting their children watch videos, play games, and read on mobile devices, though only a small number of parents feel significant guilt around the issue. Further, the study found a relationship between parental guilt and how parents perceive the educational value of the applications they use.
According to the study, guilt-free parents are:
- 200 percent more likely to believe that the apps they let their kids use are “educational”
- 68 percent more likely to list educational value as the most important aspect of an application
- 81 percent more likely to think it’s important to play games on mobile devices with their children
- 22 percent more interested in getting feedback on what their child is learning from applications
Image: Girl using a tablet, via Shutterstock.
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