The Growing Risk to Kids Online
Children today are online more than ever, and are at increasing risk of being illegally tracked and having their personal data and identities stolen. These are not just teens. A recent study by Commonsense Media found that 22 percent of 5 to 8-year-olds use computers once a day, and more than a third of children under the age of 8 have used a mobile device – either cell phones or tablets – to watch movies, play games and use apps.
It goes beyond underage use of Facebook and other social media sites, to some questionable marketing practices by some of the most trusted names in the country, including McDonald’s, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Company. For example, Playdom, a subsidiary of Disney, recently paid $3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ consent.
The personal data being collected on our children is widely available, not only to marketers trying to sell more french fries and video games, but also to predators. While the risk to our children escalates, proposed legislation to update COPPA and laws around tracking kids has stalled in Congress.
Our Collaboration to Protect Kids
Virtual World Computing, developer of the Cocoon online privacy solution, is working with child-safety advocate Marc Klaas and the KlaasKids Foundation to harness the power of technology to protect children from predators and abusive marketers.
Cocoon for KlaasKids will provide parents with a free browser plug-in designed to protect children from corporate tracking and family computers from malware. Parents can lock it into “Kid Mode,” ensuring kids only browse a parent-sourced whitelist of recommended, appropriate and safe websites.
Accessing sites beyond Cocoon for KlaasKids requires parental permission.
How You Can Help
Our goal is to make Cocoon for KlaasKids the safest means for kids to surf the Internet, but we need your help. We are planning to roll out a Beta prototype on November 9th, 2012 and are asking child online safety advocates and parenting thought leaders to help us in two critical ways:
1. Help us develop a whitelist of age-appropriate web sites. Our plan is to create an online world within which kids can learn and play safely. This means creating a framework of sites that are safe for kids to go while preventing them from visiting inappropriate or potentially unsafe web sites without parental permission. We are asking for your recommendations for age-appropriate sites that have a solid reputation for their commitment to protecting children’s identities. (Timeframe: November 9-December 14, 2012)
2. Technical Feedback. We also need people to surf Cocoon for KlaasKids to identify technical issues and make general critiques. Our goal is to launch the site to families in a format that is easy to use and free of technical glitches!
We value your commitment to protecting kids. In return for your time and expertise, we would like to publicly recognize your organization during the initial public launch of the product through the KlaasKids Foundation newsletter, the Cocoon newsletter, in our press releases, and on the Cocoon for KlaasKids website. It’s our way of building a stronger community where parents can rest easy and kids can be safe and secure. Also, we are offering our inaugural whitelist creators a free one-year subscription to our premium Cocoon for KlassKids!
Contact:Blake Bronstad CocoonKids Product Manager 805.964.7200