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New Report: "Inside the Kids' Privacy Zone"

What Parents and Policymakers Need to Know to Keep Kids Safe Online

For over a decade, Common Sense has helped kids, families, educators, businesses, and policymakers navigate the rapidly changing technology world, including protecting kids' privacy. Since we started, technology has morphed, moving from family television screens and clunky laptops to tiny screens and sensors embedded in our clothes and toys. Privacy became a major focus for Common Sense in 2010, when mobile technology was beginning its meteoric rise among young people. We launched a privacy campaign and released a policy brief, Protecting Our Kids' Privacy in a Digital World, in an effort to drive a new public policy agenda to protect the privacy of kids and teens online.

While specific technology may change, our guiding concepts and animating principles remain the same: Kids and teens should not be tracked and targeted, and they should have control over their personal information. Companies should compete on privacy and build it into their products and services from the ground up. We need better privacy and security protections across platforms, whether those are websites, smartphones, or smart teddy bears. And we all need to better educate ourselves about online privacy and digital literacy.

Download the report

Parents deserve to know about the constant efforts to collect and mine their kid's information. This isn't all nefarious. In many instances, kid's information is collected to create a more effective learning tool or provide high-quality content at a low cost. But data collection and analysis is happening, and it's not always done with the best interests of our kids in mind. Similarly, policymakers have a responsibility to help establish strong baseline protections for our children and teens, who are particularly vulnerable. These protections can provide rules of the road and certainty for companies and peace of mind for families. And these special protections for youth have long been supported in public policy.

Our new report examines five pressing privacy developments — smart toys and smart homes, virtual and augmented reality, digital citizenship, targeted ads, and edtech — in the hope that, together, families, schools, policymakers, and industry can lead the way to commonsense solutions to protect our kids.

We hope you find this report helpful. You can stay informed about privacy and get smart tips here.

Ariel Fox Johnson
Ariel Fox Johnson is Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, where she advocates for smart practices, policies, and rules to help all kids thrive in today’s wired world. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts, and has helped develop laws on student privacy, consumer privacy, and the Internet of Things. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms, and provided pro bono assistance to nonprofits and asylum seekers.