Criteria to include in your decision making when buying tech for your kids

social cue enabled toys
Not for watching over your kids, just watching your kids…

I make ZERO excuses for my disdain for Android the way Google has deployed it. I have tried to give folks explanations as to why I am a ‘hater’, but rarely is the point taken. The reality is, I like Android…as an operating system for mobile devices. But I don’t like the way Google has morphed it into infrastructure for advertising, and I don’t like the way they treated the creator of Android: Andy Rubin. In my interactions with folks who are leaning on purchasing Android based technology for kids, I really do my best to present an objective argument at keep my shilling for Apple at bay. For example:

Quora: Buying Android for kids

mobile operating system privacy
objectivity

There were a couple of options I could have suggested as alternatives, but rather direct him to those, I left it at that. The outcome was positive, in my opinion. A week or so later, I was notified of the response:

 

ipad in the end
Everything begins with choice…


INFORMATION FOR DECISION MAKING

You will be presented with a multitude of choices for gifts for your kids this Christmas Season. In the US,  (and other places across the globe) we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with family gatherings, gift giving and Christmas caroling. One of the components in that process…is choosing the right gift for someone, but the emphasis is always on the kids. Marketers know that. Advertisers know that. Toymakers know that. Technology companies know that. You should know that they base their research and development on that knowledge, and steer manufacturing based on that knowledge and patent technology based on that knowledge. 

gooooogle
tech patent for ‘social cued’ data point harvesting

They build toys that will allow them them to connect to you and your kids based on their social cues. What you need to know, is that these products see, hear and audibly respond to the data points harvested from your kids. Those datapoints are sent to a backend service for analysis. Don’t be ignorant to the fact that the data is also being analyzed by marketing for marketing purposes.

While their privacy policy will state specifically that they will not target market your kids based on the data points they harvest from them, do not underestimate the marketing in that text. Marketing and marketing are not the same. They don’t view the term nor the action the same as you do. 

MARKETING PRIVACY: “SAFE FOR KIDS”

You are going to be marketed with lables and logos similar to those FDA food lables you find on food. Everyone know they are garbage. But people buy food based on those lables every day. They are marketed as “FDA and USDA Approved”, which is also garbage. In many cases, the FDA and the USDA cannot find their own buttocks with both hands. The Federal Government should not be the litmus test for privacy of products you bring in your home. You will see text descriptions like FTC Approved. This means absolutely nothing when taken into the context of why these logos are created. For example:

samet privacy logo
This is good. But who is it good for?

This discriminator is how many parents are going to base decisions on technology they buy for their kids. Good on you for at least keeping your kids privacy in mind when making a purchase. On the surface it looks good, because the kidSAFE program is ‘FTC approved’. One of the logos even visually states it is ‘COPPA certified’.  But a deeper analysis into the kidSAFE logo certification yeilds the following: It is a certification that was developed by Samet Privacy, LLC. Their aim is to mitigate the risk of technology companies from being SUED by the consumer when it comes to technology deployed to children in the home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to imply deception by any means. I think it is great that there is a qualification that technology companies are willing to submit their products to some type of 3rd party scrutiny when it comes to products meant for kids. But their values may or may not be the same as yours. 

Stay informed, do your research…and Merry Christmas.

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