Security

How to keep your kids safe from mobile ad targetting

Image Credit: Scott Macklin/Flickr

This post comes via Alex Balan, product management head at BullGuard

It’s hard to know these days how much parental control is needed for children who frequently use mobile products like tablets, smartphones,and computers. With the increasing amount of adware that is become available, it’s important for parents to be aware that their children are being targeted.

Adware is the term most commonly used to refer to ads that come embedded in free applications like the iPhone apps your children are downloading. For the most part adware is used by developers as a means to make money, but it’s also responsible for those annoying pop-up ads you always see while surfing the internet and playing games.

While adware has been traditionally tied to the desktop, mobile apps have recently become targets for increasingly aggressive adware as well. This can mean bad news for your mobile devices. Most notably:

  • Adware can put a significant strain on your mobile device by decreasing battery life at a quicker rate,
  • Apps bundled with adware can collect personal information such as email addresses, device IDs, and browsing history.

Google-play

As a result, privacy is a big issue when it comes to mobile apps and mobile security, and it’s an issue that has major repercussions for children, especially if they own Android phones and download apps from Google Play or frequently use their parent’s devices.

A recent study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission on Google Play apps shows that 60 percent of Android apps share device IDs with advertising networks.

A few things are clear:

  • Aside from collecting private data, some apps push notifications promoting products or games
  • Other apps come with in-app purchase capabilities and others with links to social networking services.

Here are a few tips to help parents prevent their children from being tracked and profiled for their consumer and browsing habits, exposed to ads for various services and products, or end up racking-up expensive phone bills as they unknowingly approve transactions:

  • Talk to your children about the risks associated with playing mobile games, playing games online, and pop-up ads.
  • Thoroughly research the apps that your child wants to use by carefully reading the app’s description and researching the app through neutral parties.
  • Understand permission requests from the apps.
  • Read reviews from other users  and if there are apps mentioning adware, avoid the app

Children need guidance and supervision when playing on electronic devices. That’s why parental control is so important. It’s important for parents to treat technology like anything else in their children’s lives.

We also recommend installing software with parental controls so that you can decide what sites and apps your children are able to interact with. Programs like these will not only protect your device, but they will also protect your children.
alex-balanAlex is an experienced Product Manager with extensive background envisioning and designing products for a broad array of platforms and target audiences. In over eight years of product management (and marketing) tied with over 13 years in the security field, he has worked closely with research, development, marketing, design, and sales in order to deliver on time the highest product quality.

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