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Parents Guide to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) - Kids App Review

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Parents Guide to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

More companies than ever are collecting data from kids online. It’s why there are federal laws and regulations in place, like COPPA, intended to keep children younger than 13 safe. Even so, thousands of apps don’t follow these laws.

So how do you keep your kid safe in an age where children are online more than ever? The first step is educating yourself more on the law and how to enforce it.

Read on for our parent’s guide to COPPA and 5 things you need to know.

1. What Is COPPA?

COPPA was passed in 1998, and it stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It consists of rules for businesses regarding the collection, use, and sharing of kid’s data. Under the act, a kid is anyone younger than 13.

Ultimately, it keeps children safe by holding site and app operators responsible for protecting minors against data misuse since they’re too young to do it themselves.

2. How to Check Site Safety for Kids

There are many kid-targeted apps and services online and they are heavily used by children under 13.

Since not all services are properly following COPPA, it’s important that you check websites and apps in advance. Safe services should have a comprehensive privacy policy that’s easy to find, navigate, and understand. It must address any way they collect, use, or disclose your child’s data.

If this privacy policy is hard to find or read, don’t let your kid use the site or app. You can also check for COPPA certifications. Some include KidSAFE, ESRB, TrustArc, and iKeepSafe.

3. What Counts as Personal Data

You’re probably wondering what counts as personal information that falls under the children’s privacy act. This information includes items like your child’s name, address, email, phone number, photographs, and persistent identifier.

A persistent identifier is a unique identifier that can be used to track an individual’s activity across websites and services over time. However, persistent identifiers can be tracked legally if it’s the only data collected and used for support of internal operations.

4. When They Can and Can’t Collect Your Kid’s Data

COPPA law only applies to those who would collect data from children and only really includes those with products and services aimed at children. If a company doesn’t target children and is unaware of children using their site, then they may not have implemented measures to protect kids.

When it comes to what companies aren’t allowed to do, they aren’t permitted to track kid behavior or encourage information submissions, even if it’s optional or passive.

Companies can collect your kid’s data if they get your permission first, so be sure to review the terms carefully.

The few exceptions to the rule that do exist can be found here.

5. Following the Law With Social Media

To follow COPPA regulations, the majority of social media apps don’t allow children younger than 13 to use their platforms. As a result, the safest course of action is to not let your kid use these apps or sites until they’re 13. This is because they can’t do a perfect job of regulating what content gets shared, and they do collect user data.

Know COPPA and Keep Your Kid’s Data Safe

As long as you follow the tips in this parent’s guide to COPPA, your kid’s personal information will remain protected. You can continue to help ensure protection by looking for COPPA compliance on each of the apps they use.

If you found this article helpful, check out our collection of favorite kids apps and why we do what we do.