The most and least child-friendly apps
While many child-directed apps may seem harmless, there are plenty of others that could track your children’s data and potentially sell it to third parties you’d rather not interact with. As your little ones spend more time in front of the screen, it is important that they are protected. A cheap broadband can also allow you to not have to worry about the cost of entertainment for your child(ren). To reassure you, parents can compare the best broadband deals and what parental controls they offer to keep them safe online.
We’ve looked at the most and least child-friendly apps and games based on the amount of personal data they collect.
Which apps collect the most data?
Some of the worst offenders for data collection are gaming apps. Games often track your data to resell to third-party advertisers, keeping them free to play. While this might just be a nuisance for adult gamers, for kids it could mean being targeted by inappropriate products that you’d rather they didn’t see.
1. Sandwich runner
A game called “Sandwich Runner,” which involves players moving food through a giant mouth, collects the most data of any app we’ve looked at. 14 data is related to personal information, including player name, age, location, etc. Another 13 data points are used to track users across the internet, which may involve seeing what other sites your children are accessing and using that information to sell elsewhere.
2. 8 ball pool
This simple billiards game might seem harmless enough, but it targets your kids with ads while they play. It collects seven personal data and six tracking data, as well as three unrelated data, which is generally used to understand how people interact with the game. The game also enables in-app messaging, and although the options for chat are limited, it can still mean that your children are talking to people much older than them.
3. Water sorting puzzle
This game allows players to sort water into different colors, but collects a total of 14 data while it does so. It’s often the most basic games that will garner the most information, as it depends on their sale to fund their operation. If you’re wondering why so many ads appear on your phone, it’s because the game you’re playing needs them to stay online.
The first non-gaming app to make our list is Duolingo. This app helps people learn a new language and is one of the most popular educational apps out there. However, it collects 19 data while teaching you. While the vast majority of this data is used to leverage your learning experience and improve how the app works, some of it is used for advertising purposes, over which the app has no control.
5. Text or Die
13 pieces of data are collected by the game Text or Die. The game encourages you to tap faster than an online opponent, or – as the name suggests – die. It’s not as violent as it sounds, but it might not be ideal for younger users.
Which apps collect the least data?
If you want your kids to be safe when using mobile apps, choosing providers that don’t collect any data can be a good idea. Our top five apps don’t collect any user data, making them a safe choice for little hands.
1. Drawing for kids: doodle games
This creative coloring game is aimed at children from 4 years old. It teaches them all about color combinations and is great fun to play together.
2. Baby coloring book for kids
This game follows a similar path, but is aimed at even younger players. Children can color playful characters, tell stories and have fun, all without any data being collected.
3. Baby games for 2,3,4 year olds
Learn all about shapes, food, colors and more with 15 interactive games that inspire little minds to think creatively.
4. Baby Piano for Kids and Toddlers
Could your child be a musical master? There’s only one way to find out. This game teaches them basic rhythm and notes, as well as excellent hand-eye coordination.
5. Hello neighbor
This game is designed for slightly older children. It’s actually a murder mystery type game, which means it can be a bit scary for younger players. We advise you to play together to be safe.
How do I keep my children safe online?
When it comes to apps, it makes sense to moderate what your kids watch. Follow these tips to make sure they’re playing it safe.
1. Configure Parental Controls
If you have children using your broadband connection, it’s a good idea to configure parental controls. Apple and Android phones offer plenty of ways to keep an eye on your child’s usage and restrict it if necessary. If your child plays online games, certain settings can be implemented to prevent your child from talking to strangers, limiting their communications to friends and family and protecting them from any potentially dangerous characters.
2. Set age limits
You can set age limits on your phone that prevent viewing adult content or game apps, and in the App Store or Google Play, you can also select child-friendly options.
3. Unlink your bank
While having your bank account linked to the App Store can make your life easier, it also makes it much easier for your kids to spend. Delete your contact details or ensure that facial or fingerprint identification is required to complete transactions.
4. Play together
The easiest way to make sure your child is safe with apps is to use them together. Playing can be a great way to bond and have fun, and if you both participate, you can prevent anything unexpected from happening.
Catherine Hiley, broadband expert at Uswitch, says:
“Setting up Parental Controls is a great way to protect your children harmful online content.
“To set parental controls on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, then Screen Time. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions before choosing a Screen Time passcode. Then tap Content & Content Restrictions Web, before choosing Unlimited Access, Limit Adult Websites, or Allowed Websites Only.
“On Android devices, go to the Google Play app and 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 out keywords, such as gambling, adult, violence or foul language, which means that this type of content can only be viewed by people with the required passcode.
“You can also use Parental Controls to limit the time your child spends on their device or on a particular app. Don’t let them download apps to your phone without you, and read reviews of all apps to make sure they really are as kid-friendly as they promise.
“You can do the same with your broadband provideror via general internet security. You can set up a secure Internet connection by adding antivirus software, which will protect you against viruses, and may also allow you to add additional parental controls. This way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they can’t access inappropriate content or accidentally catch a virus on your laptop or computer.