Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Review date: Nov. 9, 2022
The days of being a kid free to roam and do dumb things you spend your life grateful your parents never found out about are long gone. This smart watch/tracking device/wrist communication gadget is a helicopter parent's must have accessory (OK, to be fair, I can see why parents would love this thing, it's just...kinda creepy too). Made for kids 5 -12 years old, the TickTalk watch gives parents a GPS tracking, two-way HD video and voice calling, activity tracking, photo taking, music streaming, emergency SOS calling device with a host of parental controls. Get the app, set up the watch, strap it on your kid, and they'll never know a moment of privacy ever again. And your worry as a parent will also probably go down. This smart tracking watch for kids really does highlight the issue of privacy versus safety and how those two conflict. So, hows does the TickTalk watch do when it comes to protecting you and your kids' privacy? Well, it looks like it probably does a pretty good job keeping your kids' personal information private. Yours as a parent? Well, probably not so much.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the privacy of this GPS location tracking, HD video and voice calling, photo taking, group chatting, activity tracking, music streaming smartwatch targeted at kids ages 5 - 12 years old. Let’s start with the bad news.
So, what data does the TickTalk watch and app collect? Well, there’s two stories here. There is the data collected on your child and then there is the data collected on the parent or guardian who sets up the account for the child. When it comes to the data collected on anyone under the age of 13, well, TickTalk does seem to do OK. TickTalk can collect things like a child's name or nickname, age, gender, and birthdate if you choose to share it. They can also collect location information and device information. And, they say they don’t share any of this information publicly or sell or rent it to third parties for advertising purposes. So, that’s all good.
Then there is the data TickTalk says they can collect on adults. More data is collected there. Things like name, email address, relationship to the child, location information, device information, and more. And TickTalks says they can use this information for things like personalization and promotions. Nothing worries us too much here. Although TickTalk does say they can share your aggregated or de-identified data with partners, sponsors, or the press, for example, for things like marketing and identifying industry trends. This is fairly normal, however, we should remind you that it has been found to be pretty easy to de-anonymize some of these de-identified data sets and track down an individual’s patterns, especially with location data.
So, what’s the worst that could happen with TickTalk? Well, anything that is designed to strap on a child as young as five, that tracks location, has two built-in cameras and a microphone, comes with the potential for abuse and harm. It’s good to remember that, as we know parents see these devices as helping protect their children from harm. Here’s hoping the smartwatch is never compromised in any way, and your child tracked or spied on by some bad person. That is a worst case scenario but it’s one parents should take into consideration before buying this, or any similar device.
One final consideration. We think there is a good question to be raised about teaching young children that this level of digital surveillance in their lives is OK. Maybe we should track kids a little bit less, and teach them constant surveillance isn’t a good thing?
Tips to protect yourself
- Parents, keep a sharp eye on parent controls and permissions.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Child's Name, Birth date, gender; Parent's Name, Profile Picture and/or Avatar, Phone Number, Birth Date (Optional), Gender (Optional), Precise Location, Past Precise Locations (if History Route is enabled).
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
"The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU – a children’s safety program of the US Better Business Bureau) reports that TickTalk Tech failed to meet COPPA requirements, as it didn’t provide clear, non-confusing notice of information it collects on children and it doesn’t notify parents of practices as required by COPPA."
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
"TickTalk Tech LLC's database where we store your Personal Information is encrypted at rest, which converts all Personal Information stored in the database to an unintelligible form." "Once a Child accesses their Parent-created Child Account, they can take and share photos (which may contain Personal Information) in the end-to-end encrypted Secure Messaging Center with Parent-Approved Contacts."
Children’s Privacy: CARU finds TickTalk Tech Smart Watch & app in violation of COPPACDP Institute
How to Sign Into Your TickTalk App AccountTickTalk
Children’s Advertising Review Unit Finds TickTalk Tech in Violation of COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines; Company Agrees to Corrective ActionsBBB National Programs
Kids’ Smart Watchmaker Updates Privacy Practices at Safe Harbor’s DirectionLexology
TickTalk 4 Kids Smartwatch Makers Agree To Overhaul Child Data Collection Process Following ReviewTop Class Actions
The Best Smartwatches and Phones for KidsThe New York Times
The Best Smartwatches For Kids (And Parents) To Stay ConnectedForbes
Smartwatch Privacy for Kids During the Coronavirus PandemicCommon Sense
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