Online games and websites for kids are everywhere these days – to the point where it’s commonplace to see toddlers playing with them, too. And while the internet often offers a positive way for children to explore and learn, privacy concerns are lurking. To help protect children’s privacy, the FTC enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires websites and online services to obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information from kids younger than 13.
According to the FTC, i-Dressup, a website allowing users to play dress-up games, and its owners violated COPPA by collecting personal information from kids – including names, email addresses, and user names – without obtaining parental consent and failing to take reasonable steps to protect this information. This led to a breach of i-Dressup’s network in August 2016. As a result of the breach, a hacker accessed the personal information and account passwords of over two million i-Dressup users, including at least 245,000 children under 13.
So how can you protect your child online? Here are some tips:
- Talk to your kids about what they’re doing online. Find out which games, social networking sites, and other online activities your kids are into and make sure you are comfortable with them.
- Talk to your children about the implications of providing personal information.
- Help your kids understand what information should stay private. Tell your kids why it's important to keep information like Social Security numbers, street addresses, phone numbers, and financial information private.
- Learn more about how to protect your child when he’s online.
- File a complaint with the FTC if you think a site has put your child’s privacy at risk.