The FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is fast becoming the global standard for regulating the gathering of information about kids online. It is in effect data protection legislation on steroids when it comes to obtaining and holding personal information about kids like their name, address and email.
And quite right! This sort of information has to be treated with absolute care and should only be collected in very unique circumstances. But this doesn’t mean that applications designed for kids have to become bland unresponsive environments that cannot react to a young user’s needs. There are numerous perfectly compliant ways of creating a nuanced and personalised experience for kids from the use of anonymous avatar’s to capture a user preference to reflecting general usage behaviour and applying it to enhance the product offer. If the use case is compelling enough parents will be prepared to consent to providing some information about their kids if this results in a measurably enhanced experience.
COPPA doesn’t mean an end to personalised user experience for kids it just requires a sensitive and proportionate review of the purpose and the extent of the information gathered and clear compliance with the rules.