Children’s apps contain an average of 7 third-party trackers, study finds | Cyber Security


When it comes tracking mobile app users, internet advertising companies like to start them young, according to a new University of Oxford study.

Researchers analysed nearly one million Android apps downloaded from the US and UK Google Play Stores and found that those used by children now embed some of the highest numbers of third-party trackers of any app category.

Most of these fall under in the ‘family’ category (8,930 apps), which had a median of seven trackers each, just ahead of the vast games and entertainment category (291,952 apps) on six.

Some family apps had even more trackers, with 28.3% exceeding 10. The only category that could match this was ‘news’ (26,281 apps), 29.9% of which had more than 10, or a median of seven trackers per app.

So, if you’re someone who gets their news from an app, chances are that what you’re doing is being watched very closely – something that’s at least as likely if you’re a child using a family app.

It’s no big reveal that advertisers are out to track people for commercial purposes, although the extent to which apps have become the front line in this endeavour is still quite surprising.

The extent to which children are being tracked through apps is even more unexpected given the wave of regulations that are supposed to limit how this is done, especially for anyone under the age of 13.

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