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  • Tero Vesalainen via Getty Images

    App stores pull dating apps after FTC warning about underage users

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    05.06.2019

    You'd think that dating app developers would be sure to keep children from signing up, but that's not always the case. Apple and Google have removed three Wildec dating apps (FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U) from their respective stores after the FTC found that the titles were allowing sign-ups from kids under 13, violating COPPA and the FTC Act in the process. The developer was aware it had underage users, the FTC said, and there were "several" people who'd faced criminal charges for contacting kids through these apps.

  • Chesnot via Getty Images

    Google blocks TikTok downloads in India over pornography concerns

    by 
    Christine Fisher
    Christine Fisher
    04.16.2019

    Today, Google blocked TikTok downloads from its Google Play store in India, and Apple has been asked to do the same. The move comes after India's federal government sent a letter to the companies requesting that they abide by a state court's decision to ban the popular video app. India's concern is that TikTok encourages pornography and makes child users vulnerable to sexual predators, Reuters reports.

  • Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Google Play Store has a problem with violent games made for kids

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    04.08.2019

    Google's issues with disturbing child-oriented content extend beyond YouTube. Wired has found dozens of Android apps on the Play Store that were rated as safe for kids, but featured gruesome content. Mad Max Zombies was rated PEGI 3 but had you gunning down the undead with plenty of blood, while Baby Panda Dental Care had you pulling teeth in a fairly graphic fashion. There were also pay-to-play slot machines and apps with questionable uses of location tracking and device permissions.

  • diego_cervo via Getty Images

    Verizon has a phone plan for kids, complete with parental controls

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    04.02.2019

    Like it or not, many kids have smartphones -- and Verizon (Engadget's parent company) wants to capitalize on that with a plan meant to reassure parents anxious about what their young ones might see. The carrier's newly unveiled Just Kids plan melds 5GB of LTE data, unlimited calling/talk to 20 parent-defined contacts and a subscription to Verizon Smart Family Premium's parental controls, all at prices noticeably lower than for the grown-ups ($35 to $55 per month depending on the total number of lines). Ideally, this saves you some money each month while giving you tools to limit usage, filter out unsavory content and keep track of your kids' whereabouts.

  • ChiccoDodiFC via Getty Images

    Care.com pulls nearly 47,000 daycare listings following report

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    03.31.2019

    Care.com is considered the go-to site for caregivers in the US, but it just faced a serious shakeup. The company has confirmed that it took down 46,594 daycare center listings (45 percent of the listings in its database) after a Wall Street Journal report found that hundreds of listings weren't actually state licensed as claimed. Some falsely claimed their licenses, while others either didn't exist or didn't know they were on the site in the first place.

  • Rawf8 via Getty Images

    Family tracking app leaked real-time location data for weeks

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    03.24.2019

    Family tracking apps can be very helpful if you're worried about your kids or spouse, but they can be nightmarish if that data falls into the wrong hands. Security researcher Sanyam Jain has revealed to TechCrunch that React Apps' Family Locator left real-time location data (plus other sensitive personal info) for over 238,000 people exposed for weeks in an insecure database. It showed positions within a few feet, and even showed the names for the geofenced areas used to provide alerts. You could tell if parents left home or a child arrived at school, for instance.

  • Netflix

    Netflix's latest interactive series for kids is 'Battle Kitty'

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    03.19.2019

    Netflix's growing catalog of interactive shows now includes another aimed at the younger crowd. The service has unveiled Battle Kitty, an animated series where kids help its namesake warrior fight monsters on an island and become a champion. Its origins are as unusual as the format, too. It's based on Instagram posts from animator Matt Layzell (known for work on titles like Sanjay and Craig and Pinky Malinky), who'll be a showrunner for the first time.

  • AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

    FDA proposes stricter rules for flavored e-cigarettes

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    03.13.2019

    After months of talking about limiting flavored e-cigarettes, the FDA ready to take more definitive action. The regulator has unveiled draft rules that would let it restrict sales of e-cigs with flavors that could appeal to kids (that is, everything outside of menthol, mint and tobacco). It would "prioritize" enforcement on sales of those flavors in ways that make them easily accessible to or enticing for kids. This could include retail stores where kids can walk in at any time, online stores with weak quantity limits and products whose look and flavor could appeal to the younger crowd.

  • AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

    Senate bill proposes stricter privacy controls for children

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    03.12.2019

    Some politicians don't believe the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act does enough to protect kids in the modern era, and they're hoping to update it accordingly. Senators Ed Markey and Josh Hawley have introduced a bill that would amend COPPA with stricter controls on kids' data. It would ban ads targeted at kids, and would require an "Eraser Button" that would let kids and parents wipe data. The measure would still ban the collection of personal data for kids under 13 without their parents' consent, but it would also ban collecting data from the 13- to 15-year-old crowd without the user's permission.

  • Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

    FTC fines TikTok $5.7 million over child privacy violations

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    02.27.2019

    The creators of TikTok are facing US penalties for allegedly doing too little to respect kids' privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has fined TikTok (aka Musical.ly) $5.7 million as part of a settlement over reported COPPA violations in its lip-syncing video app. Regulators said that TikTok not only collected personal information from under-13 users without their parents' consent, but made those profiles public and, until October 2016, let people share their location with nearby friends. The developers knew a "significant percentage" of users were under 13 but didn't change their ways even after "thousands of complaints," the FTC said.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    AT&T pulls ads from YouTube over pedophilia controversy

    by 
    AJ Dellinger
    AJ Dellinger
    02.21.2019

    As YouTube continues to struggle with the issue of child predators latching on to content for kids, the video platform has lost another major advertiser. AT&T has decided to pull its ads from YouTube, according to CNBC. The telecom giant joins Disney, Nestle and Fortnite maker Epic Games in removing advertising from YouTube while the issue persists.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    YouTube axes hundreds of channels over child exploitation concerns

    by 
    Kris Holt
    Kris Holt
    02.21.2019

    YouTube has removed more than 400 channels and disabled comments on "tens of millions of videos" over the last few days after reports suggested a child porn ring was persisting on the platform. In a comment on a video published by Philip DeFranco Wednesday, the service's creator relations team said YouTube's staff are working "incredibly hard to root out horrible behavior," and have "reported illegal comments to law enforcement."

  • AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

    Disney, Nestle pull YouTube ads in uproar over child videos

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    02.20.2019

    YouTube is still grappling with predatory comments on child videos, and it's once again facing the consequences. Bloomberg has learned that Disney, Fortnite creator Epic Games, Nestle and Oetker have "paused" spending on YouTube ads after video blogger Mark Watson shared a video showing how comments on videos with children were being used to enable an ad hoc softcore child porn ring. Commenters would flag videos where underage girls were performing supposedly suggestive actions, such as gymnastics, while YouTube's own algorithms would inadvertently suggest similar videos.

  • s0ulsurfing - Jason Swain via Getty Images

    UK bans gambling ads from sites and games that target kids

    by 
    Saqib Shah
    Saqib Shah
    02.13.2019

    The UK will prohibit child-friendly websites and video games from running gambling ads, a move that poses potential ramifications for app developers, soccer stars and social media influencers alike. Starting April 1st, gambling companies will be banned from targeting ads at under-18s on social media and across the web. Bookmakers will also be forced to restrict their ads from sections of sites that are youth-oriented -- for instance, web pages dedicated to younger supporters on a soccer club's website.

  • Basic Fun

    Speak & Spell is B-A-C-K

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    02.08.2019

    If you're a techie of a certain age (cough), you probably have fond memories of the Speak & Spell. The Texas Instruments toy's quirky speech synthesis may be quaint by modern standards, but it sounded like magic at a time when getting any computer to talk was a big deal. You'll be glad to hear it's back, then. Basic Fun is introducing a revived Speak & Spell that includes all the familiar games, that simple segmented display (albeit one based on modern LCDs) and, of course, that signature orange-and-yellow design. However, there is one important change you'll have to consider: the voice.

  • Reuters/Brendan McDermid

    Oath to pay $5 million settlement over children's online privacy

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    12.04.2018

    Oath (Engadget's parent brand) is paying a record-breaking settlement for its approach to children's privacy. The Verizon-owned media company has agreed to pay $4.95 million, the largest ever settlement in a case like this, after New York state found that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by running targeted ads on sites meant primarily for kids under 13 years old, such as Roblox.com. Up until November 2017, Oath's systems (and AOL's before that) reportedly ignored information warning that sites were subject to COPPA rules and sent ads that collected potentially sensitive data through the use of cookies and location info.

  • Huawei

    Huawei app uses AI to help deaf children read

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    12.03.2018

    Deaf children face challenges learning to read. As their parents and teachers often don't know sign language, young ones can't always make the connection between words on the page and their own life experiences. Huawei aims to fix that with its StorySign app for Android. Point your phone at certain children's books and the app will use AI to translate individual words on the page to sign language performed by an avatar (created by Wallace and Gromit's Aardman Animations, no less). This not only helps children read, but can teach parents the sign language they'd need to tell the story later.

  • liitleBits

    Ask Engadget: Is it OK to buy a tech toy for someone else's kid?

    by 
    Amber Bouman
    Amber Bouman
    11.17.2018

    The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we've known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community's knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments. We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we've decided to bring back the much-missed "Ask Engadget" column. This week's question comes to us from a reader who needs a great gadget recommendation for a child. Weigh in with your advice in the comments -- and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com! I'm looking for a good tech gift for someone else's child. What would be an appropriate choice for a kid in the 7 to 10 age range?

  • LENblR via Getty Images

    Senators call for FTC investigation into ads in children’s apps

    by 
    Mallory Locklear
    Mallory Locklear
    11.13.2018

    Last month, a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics described just how prevalent advertising is in apps geared towards children, and its findings have now led three Senators to ask the FTC to investigate. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the commission today, citing the study's findings and urging the FTC to act. "The FTC has a statutory obligation to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive advertising practices. That responsibility is all the more urgent when the potential victims of such practices are children," they wrote. "As parents increasingly permit kids to engage in online games and apps for entertainment and fun, it is imperative to ensure that these playtime options are compliant with existing laws."

  • BSIP via Getty Images

    Amazon adds kid-friendly audiobooks to FreeTime Unlimited

    by 
    AJ Dellinger
    AJ Dellinger
    11.12.2018

    FreeTime Unlimited, Amazon's service that gives parents control over their kids' screen time experience, is expanding to Audiobooks. Starting today, more than 1,000 kid-friendly stories from Audible will be available through FreeTime Unlimited. The audiobooks will appear via software update. The service is available on Amazon tablets as well as iOS and Android devices.