Children today are online more than ever, and are at increasing risk of being illegally tracked and having their personal data and identities stolen. These are not just teens. A recent study by Commonsense Media found that 22 percent of 5 to 8-year-old children use computers once a day, and more than a third of children under the age of 8 have used a mobile device – either cell phones or tablets – to watch movies, play games and use apps.
It goes beyond underage use of Facebook and other social media sites, to some questionable marketing practices by some of the most trusted names in the country, including McDonald’s, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Company. For example, Playdom, a subsidiary of Disney, recently paid $3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ consent.
The personal data being collected on our children is widely available, not only to marketers trying to sell more French fries and video games, but also to predators. While the risk to our children escalates, proposed legislation to update COPPA and laws around tracking kids has stalled in Congress.
Our Collaboration to Protect Kids
Virtual World Computing, developer of the Cocoon online privacy solution, is working with child-safety advocate Marc Klaas and the KlaasKids Foundation to harness the power of technology to protect children from predators and abusive marketers.
Cocoon for KlaasKids will provide parents with a free browser plug-in designed to protect children from corporate tracking and family computers from malware. Parents can lock it into “Kid Mode,” ensuring kids only browse a parent-sourced whitelist of recommended, appropriate and safe websites. Accessing sites beyond Cocoon for KlaasKids requires parental permission.