The risks and benefits of data collection may be incomprehensible to most children, but it’s important for them to know that information about them is constantly being collected from their smartphones. Therefore, even children need to be thoughtful about what facts and images they choose to share, as they build a digital footprint throughout the course of their lives. In other words, they need to know that data collection is about more than tracking their progress when they play their favorite games.
The choices, interests and “likes” kids express on their smartphones will be used to predict their behavior, and ultimately entice them to buy things, even when they don’t need them. They will be bated with cleverly masked offers that seem completely legitimate. What starts with a simple pop culture reference can eventually become a “phishing” scheme to collect personal information about a user, and eventually create a phony persona that can actually ruin a child’s credit rating. Surprisingly, this can be difficult to reverse. So, if kids are old enough to use a smartphone, they must be old enough to establish strong passwords, and to practice cyber-safety 24/7.