What Every Parent Should Know About COPPA

You may have heard of COPPA in passing, but most parents don’t understand the power it provides in protecting children when they’re online. With COPPA, parents get almost full control over the information websites and apps collect about their children. This is important now more than ever as children interact with websites and apps on an increasingly daily basis.

To help you understand your child’s right to privacy, we compiled this quick guide about what parents should know about COPPA. We go through what COPPA means for your family and what you should do if you suspect a website or app isn’t following the rules.

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COPPA Helps Protect Your Child's Privacy

COPPA is a parent’s best friend in the digital age. It’s a law that restricts the information websites and apps collect from children. Thanks to COPPA, websites and apps can’t:

  1. Collect personal information from U.S. children under the age of 13 without parental consent.
  2. Share children’s information outside of the company without parental consent.

Take note that websites and apps CAN collect you and your child’s name and online contact information in order to get your consent. They can’t hold on to this information past a reasonable time if you don’t provide that consent.

The law also requires websites and apps to:

  • Keep all of the information they obtain from children confidential and secure. They can’t hold on to the data for longer than needed.
  • Provide parents access to all information collected from their children. Parents also get the option to delete that information if they want.
  • Give parents the power to STOP all collection or use of their children’s personal information.

If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty of what COPPA does and doesn’t allow, check out the information on the Federal Trade Commission website.

What Personal Information Does COPPA Safeguard?

This law protects most of your child’s personal information. That includes:

  • First and last name
  • A home or physical address (street name, city name, town name)
  • Online contact info
  • User name or screen name for contact purposes
  • Telephone number
  • Social security number
  • Anything that can be used to identify a child over time or across different websites and apps
  • Photos, videos, audio files
  • Geolocation info that would give up the child’s street, city, or town name
  • Other information from a child that’s connected with any of the above info.

This means that a website or app can’t ask your child for any of this information, even if they make it optional.

I Suspect a Website or App is Violating My Child's Privacy, What Do I Do?

Are you getting a strange feeling about your child’s favorite website or app? The FTC recommends reaching out to them directly to file a COPPA complaint. You can do so online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by phone on the toll-free number (877) FTC-HELP.

We recommend learning more about ways to protect your child online beyond privacy concerns. Check out the Jellies blog for more parenting resources to learn more about the trouble with popular kids apps and how to set up parental controls on your iPhone or iPad.