Do online games mine my data too?

Do online games mine my data too?

19th February 2021By nanhoodadminNo Comments

As play gets more techno how far beyond play does the game go? 

Do you or your child’s school sign up to online learning tools which gather and store data? 

Data gathering

By buying my child’s interactive game I can be agreeing to many companies  placing a cookie on my device permanently. The company then follows my  browser activity, what pages I load, what pages I view. 

These play and learning sites may say that they do not knowingly gather data from children under 16… the implication being ‘they might’, if you let them. In fact the site  will scrape data if your under 16 uses your device. 

Parents and teachers are responsible

It is up to you to tell the company if you’re under 16 year old child goes outside the ‘Play Experience’ where the data surveillance is active. And for you to know when your child on a device is checking out the game’s website. 

The ‘you’ in this can be the school, the teacher and if you download the educational game at home  it is ‘you’ the parent. 

Data surveillance 

My daughter sent me a link to a play tool called Play Osmo. It is a play innovation from the USA tech home of Palo Alto California. 

The tools allow children to play in the real and virtual world simultaneously. Play Osmo says it is already used in 30,000 schools. To get the most out of the interactive tools a wifi enabled device is essential. 

While the parent or teacher connects their device  for the child to play on they are simultaneously agreeing to their own activity on their device being tracked by the permanent cookie. 

Offering children great play opportunities gives the company the freedom to mine a data rich source of adult activity. The data analysis  includes following activity on the device to inform not just its own commercial activity but its partners advertising. Or as they say it is  to ‘improve the service’ (by offering you better ads). While Play Osmo will not gather data which will identify you personally it acknowledges it is connected to third parties that store information in a way which will identify you for future advertising. 

Play Osmo does allow children to input personal Information such as a friend’s email address, and can process or record a child’s activities within the app, such as the pattern of their drawing or other creations. In addition, users may request that drawings, word albums, are shared with a ‘broader community’ outside the ‘Play Experience’. By leaving the ‘Play Experience’ the users activity becomes data to mine.

Read the Terms and Conditions

This example reminded me of the rule ‘ READ the Terms and Conditions’ before buying. It’s tough when the kids are telling you it is needed for school, or ‘everyone has it’ . If I download these apps or use these websites I have to take extra care to watch exactly what the boys are doing with this open door to an unsafe world.

Top Tips

  • Read or ask someone to read the privacy policy if not all the T&C
  • Word search the T&C and privacy policy for ‘third-parties’, storage, ‘pass on’ and so forth to make the task easier
  • Get used to paying attention to detail