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Advertisers and companies have direct access to consumers like never before. Internet users must understand they are a highly sought after commodity. When we allow access to the microphone or camera on our electronic devices or our location, a gateway to our lives and buying habits is opened.

Think about how often this happens to you and now consider how often it is happening to children. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 95% of children 13 to 17 years old report having access to a smartphone and 45% of that same group claim to be “online constantly.”

That “constant” interaction online – a click, a like, a share – creates data points. With each Google® search or YouTube® video viewed, information is collected, and ad trackers are attached for marketing purposes.

Children and teens are the most sought-after demographic. They’re being marketed to in ways most adults never were. Our society is on the cusp of science fiction tales like Minority Report and Blade Runner becoming a reality – direct, personalized, in-your-face digital marketing.

How do we combat this?

First, by recognizing that it’s happening. Second, by taking a few extra steps to ensure our privacy and safety – and that of our children.

Talk to your children about clearing browser cookies and cache, about not sharing location and not granting access to an electronic devices’ microphone and camera unless they are being actively used. Sign an electronic device agreement with your children and make sure you are modeling good digital citizenship.

What is a cookie?

Cookies are little snippets of code or information websites store in your web browser. They’re not inherently evil – but they enable marketers to know what sites you’ve visited and advertisers to know your interests.

What are Facebook Pixels?

Facebook allows companies to add a bit of code to their website. This code allows the company to track users who click through an ad the company places on Facebook. The company learns a lot by tracking what a user does after they click an ad: if you add something to a virtual shopping cart, but don’t make the purchase, the company can show you a specific ad for that item in your Facebook feed.