Keeping your kids safe: Here’s what you can do to keep devices from tracking your children

ATLANTA, Ga — Our personal information is being collected every day on every device we use. But it is not just our information companies collect, our kids are also being tracked.

Parents are the ones who have got to step in and stop it.

Dolls that allow strangers to listen in, criminals gaining access to your kids through video games and now companies using the microphones and even the keystrokes on your child’s device to collect personal data.

Haley Viente is pretty strict when it comes to what her son Blake can do with his devices.

“Being a mom to a 15-year-old teenager can be very overwhelming,” Viente said.

“I’ll see my friends doing things and I won’t be allowed to do it, so it’s kind of frustrating sometimes,” social media user Blake Maiden said.


Maiden told Channel 2 Action News that while he’s not as tech savvy as most of his friends he does use social media without putting too much thought into what information is being collected.

“In the back of my mind, I can see how, like, maybe that’s a little nerve wracking or a little scary, but on a daily basis, I’m not worrying about it,” Maiden said.

We asked the mother son duo to figure out what the apps on Blake’s phone had permission to do.

“So he has one, two, three, four, five, five apps that are listening to him,” Viente said.

Then we had them look up the privacy policy for one of those apps to see just how Maiden’s info is being used.

“For the detailed answer. Go here. So, there’s somewhere else to click,” Viente said.

Security researcher Willis McDonald told us it’s on you the parent to search these polices for answers.

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“Even though they’re saying they’re not doing one thing with your information in a whole separate section, it basically negates that,” McDonald said. “There are a lot of complicated privacy policies out there.”

According to a 2023 Harvard study, social media companies brought in nearly $11 billion in advertising from users under 18 in 2022.

“We need to educate children about PII that’s personally identifiable information. The less PII you give anyone, any digital or physical entity, the better,” said Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer with Bark Technologies.

Jordan founded Bark Technologies, which allows parents to track their kid’s online activity.

“The power that these devices and these social media entities and these games and these streaming platforms have over our children is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Jordan said.

The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed changes to the children’s online privacy protection act take direct aim at companies using kid’s data for advertising.

Restrictions would include requiring a separate opt-in for targeted advertising and limits on nudging kids to stay online.

There are ways you can protect your child now.

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McDonald told Channel 2 Action News that besides turning off location services and microphones on devices and computers, parents need to look for input accessibility and screen recording.

“Screen recording actually allows somebody to watch what your child is doing. Accessibility and input monitoring actually have the ability or give the ability for someone to monitor keystrokes -- so what your child is typing in,” McDonald said.

But the best way to keep your child and their info safe is to know what they are doing with their devices.

“You’ve got to put rules and parameters in place to keep your child safe,” Viente said.

As parents, we know all of this can seem overwhelming but there is a big payoff to you getting involved and stopping the tracking of your kids. It’s worth the effort.

Read: ‘Be Smart With Your Kid’s Smartphones’ event hosted by local law enforcement and the FBI

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Clark Howard

Clark Howard, Action News Jax

Clark Howard is a Consumer Adviser for Action News Jax.

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