2023 Megatrends: What’s Next for Child Safety & Privacy on Mobile Apps?

As regulations tighten and some of the biggest companies in the app space are under increased scrutiny, we see a growing trend in companies updating and tightening their privacy policies, especially around data sharing and child protection.

Back in 2020, California residents voted to pass the CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act), which builds on an earlier consumer privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). While the CCPA gave residents the right to access and delete personal information held by businesses and opt out of the sale of that data, the new law puts into place further requirements for businesses around data collection practices and data retention. The new CPRA took effect on January 1, 2023. Watchful was the first to unveiled on TechCrunch the early tests that Snapchat was carrying out to comply with this new regulation two months before this deadline.

Another issue that is connected to safety and privacy, is the need to protect minors online. Social media giants have faced mounting criticism for not doing more to protect their younger users, which are often exposed to adult-oriented content. Restricting access to sensitive or adult themes is something that needs constant monitoring, and Watchful insights unveiled back in July 2022 the early tests TikTok was carrying out to enable creators to produce livestreams that are restricted to viewers over the age of 18.

Besides adult content, issues such as bullying, drugs and sexual exploitation are also a key concern for these platforms, their youngest users, and their parents. State attorneys general have urged Snap and Culver City-based TikTok to strengthen their parental controls, with both companies’ apps especially popular among teens. Last year, Watchful discovered the test behind Snapchat’s new Family Center, which allows parents to see who their children are friends with on the app and who they’ve messaged within the last seven days, to be able to identify abuse or harassment.

We expect 2023 to see further changes in policy which will continue impacting the apps that manage personal data, especially those which are used by children and teens. If you want to take a deeper dive into this subject and explore which other megatrends will impact mobile apps in 2023, check out our latest report where you’ll see other key issues shaping the industry such as AR, the explosion of voice & audio features, and the revolution in mobile payments.

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