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What are the top trending gaming apps for kids? And how gaming applications are gathering kids' data?

Internetmatters recently published a study in which they deeply studied the gaming routine of school-age children of multiple brackets. Gaming apps are usually free of cost and sometimes they are paid or have in-app purchases availability. The data collected from the research compares behaviors of kids towards the most trending games available on the Apple Play Store. Surfshark, a cybersecurity company, overviewed InternetMatters' data and explained how these apps are gathering personal information without the consent of a gamer.

The research analyzed different parameters, including data protection of children and outsourcing of user’s data to third-party apps for marketing purposes, extremism, age rating, and in-app purchases. To carry out the analysis, the analysts found the population of children of age groups between six to ten years in the United Kingdom who enjoy gaming experiences on parents’ smartphones. It was estimated by getting the product of the entire number of kids of that age in England by the corresponding number of children who play a certain game on a device. According to Surfshark, popular Candy Crush, Crossy Road, and Call of duty are the most dangerous apps in terms of data collection.

The Surfshark company categorized often-used mobile gaming applications depending on the confidentiality of data they gather. The researchers ranked nine apps and gathered thirty-two data types from the Apple Play Store app. The list includes games such as; Minecraft, Angry birds 2, Roblox, Candy Crush, Pokemon, Fifa, The Sims, Crossy Road, and Call of Duty. Surfshark’s study reveals Call of Duty, Pokemon and Candy Crush to be the most data-hungry applications.

Across 9 apps Surfshark gathered data from, 7 used third-party advertisers for monetization and collection of children's data. These excluded Minecraft and Roblox didn’t have any third-party apps hindering your child’s gaming experience. Moreover, 4 out of 9 apps including Crossy Roads, Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds have apps monitoring users' and children's location and privacy. This data could be sold to third-party advertisers. Furthermore, out of 9, 4 games including Pokemon, Roblox, Candy Crush, and Call of Duty were accused of collecting contact information and phone numbers. Add, Candy Crush, and Call of Duty also collected personal information such as the email addresses, names, phone numbers, and addresses of children. Also worth mentioning is that Candy Crush and Call of Duty collected enough data to track your child across the internet, putting them the most privacy-intrusive apps out of all 9 games tested in this list.

Nowadays, children are getting more and more addicted to modern methods of entertainment and digital media. It is important to make sure to monitor their internet usage and keep them from spending money on games and giving away their private information to games to sell to advertisers. In-app purchases and micro transactions can develop bad habits of wasting money on young children. Gaming can be a great source of self-expression and entertainment but too much of anything can lead to problems.

An important factor to consider here is that games aren’t just using in-app purchases, but also collecting data from children to sell to advertisers. Advertisers can use this data to recommend the next game or anything to help in marketing their products and services to children. On the other hand, games rely on these advertisers as a source of income. They risk the privacy of children who don’t know the first thing about personal information even though it is illegal under the COPPA law.

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