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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Protecting the privacy of your kids online



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Get more consumer advice on ClarkHoward.com and The Clark Howard Show.

By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


A Wall Street Journal investigation finds websites and apps that target children are much more likely to track your kids' Internet habits than websites that are geared toward adults.

The newspaper tested 50 different websites that are popular with teens and children to see how many cookies each site put on a computer. Among the sites tested were Disney.Go.com, PBSKids.org, Lego.com and Barbie.com.

The 50 sites collectively placed 4,123 cookies on computers. While some cookies can be helpful, many of the particular cookies (aka beacons) identified by The Wall Street Journal are used to track everywhere a child goes and deliver targeted ads.

In essence, these beacons allow marketers to develop dossiers on children and do mischief by targeting your kids with material that may be inappropriate for their age.

I never like to give a problem without a solution. That's why we've put together a guide that explains how to protect your kids on the web, with step-by-step instructions about removing tracker cookies.

Parents have the ultimate responsibility to control and know what their kids are doing on the web. That's why my wife and I insist that there be no TVs or computers in our kids' rooms. The children are only allowed to go online and watch TV in common areas where they can be monitored.

Meanwhile, all the discussion about Edward Snowden and the NSA has renewed interest in all level of spying. There's now a backlash in the fashion world that's losely termed "stealthware."

Adam Harvey, a designer, is offering the following garments:

  • The anti-drone hoodie and anti-drone scarf: garments designed to thwart thermal imaging, a technology used widely by UAVs
  • The XX-shirt: a x-ray shielding print in the shape of a heart, that protects your heart from x-ray radiation
  • The Off Pocket: an anti-phone accessory that allows you to instantly zero out your phone’s signal.