Around 3,337 of free apps on the Google Play Store are wrongly collecting data about children according to a new study. File picture: Steve Marcus/Reuters

INTERNATIONAL - Around 3,337 of free apps on the Google Play Store are wrongfully collecting data about children, Engadget reported.

A study from researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute created and used an automated system to find data on apps marketed or marked for being family-friendly. 

Using this automated system, the researchers found 3,337 child and family-oriented apps were collecting data about children they should not have been. 5,855 popular Android apps were used in the study, and the following results were discovered:  

A number of 281 apps have collected contact or location data without asking for a parent’s permission.

Another 1,100 shared persistent identifying information with third parties, and 2,281 appeared to violate the Google terms of service forbidding apps from sharing those identifiers to the same destination as the Android Advertising ID.

File Image: IOL

About 40% of the apps transmitted this data without using reasonable security measures.

Nearly all of the 1,280 apps (92%) with Facebook tie-ins were not properly using the social network’s systems to prevent under-13 use.

Tips to keeping your children safe online:

1. Set-up parental controls and filters

 You can use software like Net Nanny and Qustodio to block out the websites you don't as well as control how much screen time the children get each day. 

2. Install a firewall and antivirus software on computers

This will help ensure that your children aren’t heading anywhere they shouldn’t be. 

3. Know their skill level 

If you have a better understanding of how good your children really are with computers and technology, then you will be better able to teach them about how to be safe online. 

4.Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you want to prevent your location from being tracked and protect your family on any network, the best thing to do is to get a Virtual Private Network. 

It connects your device to an offsite secure server and uses an encrypted connection to keep your data safe on that connection.

However, you may not be able to get a VPN connected to every gadget in your house, you can at least get one for their smartphone or computers

5. Install an ad-blocker 

 Start by installing ad blockers on your browser and spend time getting to know your privacy settings. Ad blocker apps will allow users to block ads and opt-out of social media marketing systems. 

There are many apps available such as AdBlock Plus, AdAway, Firefox focus, Brave Browser etc. 

6. Reduce third-party access

Reducing third party access to your information will help you protect more of your digital activity from Google and Facebook. 

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