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Privacy & Data

What Happens to Childhood When You Start Counting Steps?

New York Times Well Blog:

Fitness trackers and wearable devices are big business these days, and parents tend to hover close, fascinated by the details of their children’s lives. So it’s not surprising that there is interest in fitness trackers as potentially useful tools for kids struggling with weight problems, or for families trying to build more physical activity into their screen-filled lives, or as just one more set of cool electronic toys.

Fitness trackers, like other cool electronic toys, raise questions on issues ranging from data security to self-image. And like adults, children and adolescents vary in how they react to wearable devices.

Michelle De Mooy, the deputy director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, says there are always special concerns when children are using products designed for adults.

“There are a lot of restrictions around advertising to kids — when you give a kid an adult product, those are gone,” she said. “You might start getting things for obesity,” she added, referring to ads, “things that would be fine for an adult to get — not so fine for a kid.”

Full story here.