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Privacy concerns over GPS watches marketed for kids

Are you thinking of getting a GPS watch for your kids as an alternative to a cell phone? Consider this, those watches could come with a hidden danger.

SEATTLE — Parents purchase GPS watches for their kids, thinking they're taking an extra step to keep their children safe, but experts say these devices could add unnecessary harm. 

Ben Spradling with the Better Business Bureau said hackers can create additional accounts, sync them to the watches, and then use their access to know the child's location, steal their data, and send deceptive information to parents. 

So, if you're a parent thinking about adding a GPS watch to your child's Christmas list this year, what can you do? 

Spradling recommends the following tips: 

Check for a privacy policy. Children’s privacy laws require that online devices marketed to kids include a privacy policy. If you can’t find one, then find another device.

Also, give approval. Parental approval is needed before an online device that targets kids can begin collecting their data. Parents who suspect their kids’ information has been taken without their consent should contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Finally, Keep devices current. Downloading and installing the most up-to-date software available can help fix bugs and halt privacy issues on devices that users may not even know exist.

It’s important for parents to realize that these types of technology are always fraught with these issues. 

Right now it’s GPS watches, but the ability for hackers to get in touch with children is a growing problem among a variety of devices, including YouTube and video games. 

Parents need to be continually aware of the devices their kids are using and be mindful of the dangers that can be associated with their use.

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