Common Sense Media Creates One-Stop Resource to Help Protect Kids' Privacy
The organization's industry-leading privacy ratings for apps and platforms are now integrated into reviews, helping families and educators make the best media and tech decisions for kids.
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 21, 2023—To make it easier for families and educators to find clear information on the apps and platforms that kids are using, Common Sense Media has integrated its industry-leading privacy ratings into its app reviews, alongside star ratings that evaluate quality, learning, and age appropriateness. The integration of privacy ratings into app reviews helps address a large knowledge gap about the privacy practices of apps used by kids and families.
The organization's recent 2023 State of Kids' Privacy report found that nearly three-quarters of the industry is still monetizing the data of kids and families in some way. The report also revealed that 91% of consumers want more control over their privacy online. Because most privacy policies are either hard to find or difficult to understand, this new one-stop resource will inform families and educators about whether apps and platforms are selling data, pushing targeted advertisements, or using a third party to track users, among other harmful privacy practices.
"Apps and platforms can be just like junk food: delicious and hard to resist. But it's important to know about a product's privacy practices in order to make a healthy decision," says Girard Kelly, head of privacy at Common Sense Media. "By integrating privacy ratings into our reviews, we're giving families and educators a sort of nutrition label so they can quickly identify when an app or platform may be risky and find safer options for kids at home and at school."
Users visiting an app review at commonsensemedia.org will now see a new set of privacy badges alongside the familiar age check mark and star rating. To determine privacy quality, apps are evaluated against a unique framework and given one of three ratings: Pass, Warning, or Fail. In addition to seeing the privacy rating badge, icons are available at a quick glance so families and educators can take a closer look into the details behind each rating. For instance, to earn our highest Pass privacy rating—which means the product meets our minimum requirements for privacy—the app's or platform's policies must say that it does not sell data. A Pass-rated policy must also say that there's no third-party tracking or marketing, no profiling, no tracking across apps, and no targeted ads for any user.
While the number of products that receive a Pass rating—because they meet our minimum safeguards that protect all users of a product—has been steadily increasing, 75% of applications and services are still receiving our Warning rating, which means they aren't meeting our minimum privacy recommendations for kids and families. For example, the app review for Instagram now displays a Warning privacy rating because the company's policies say it uses data for targeted ads, third-party tracking and marketing, profiling, and tracking users across apps—all to make money from your data. On the other hand, the app review for Khan Academy Kids now displays a Pass privacy rating, because the company's policies say it does not sell data, does not display targeted ads, and there's no third-party tracking or marketing, no profiling, and no tracking users across apps for profit.
Find the newly integrated privacy ratings here.
About Common Sense
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.