Parents' Guide to

Background Check App

By Chris Morris, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Easy way to dig up loads of personal info on almost anyone.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this app.

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The privacy debate that springs up around BACKGROUND CHECK APP is an extensive one -- but ultimately a useless one. While many object to how easy it now is for someone to learn what can be very private details of your life, the fact of the matter is the information has been available online for a long time. And it was inevitable that it would make its way to the mobile platform. That said, this app (from, which provides an identical service on the web) can sometimes dig deeper than you'd like it to -- listing the names of relatives (though, apparently, not underage children) as well as home addresses and criminal records, along with your entire online footprint, including photos, videos, blogs, etc. The scary part is: The information isn't always accurate, which can create a false impression that sometimes is unjustified.

There's certainly a curiosity factor that goes with this sort of app, but it's not something you want in a child's hand. The reliability questions that go with the data could lead them to gossip about a teacher or friend's parents having a criminal record, when it was, in fact, someone with a similar name. The app could, however, be a good way to show children that they can always be held accountable for their past -- and that they should think twice (or even three times) before posting something online, since someone can always see it.

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