There are apps for just about everything these days, but they’re not just for our convenience and pleasure. While you’re playing Candy Crush in a waiting room or scrolling through Instagram on your lunch break, these apps are quietly collecting information about you. Scary, right?
This information can be gathered along with data from millions of other phones to create broad statistics and general consumer insight. It can also be passed on to advertisers who would like to sell you something (looking at you, targeted ads). Apps collect important personal data like:
- Online purchases
- Search and browsing history
- Financial data
- Contact information
- Phone usage data
If that sounds overly intrusive and makes you worry about your child’s mobile devices, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to stop app tracking on iPhone and Android devices.
How App Tracking Works
How does app tracking work? Let’s start with a quick breakdown of Apple’s definition of app tracking. It states that data tracking occurs when an app collects data regarding users or devices and then links that information to third-party data for the purposes of advertising. It may also include providing data brokers with information collected through an app.
Let’s discuss what that means for you and your family. When information is collected through an app on your phone or tablet, it often tracks your online activities even outside the app. The app starts by collecting information that you provide in the app or that is mined from your device. They then use it in one or more of the following ways to:
- Improve targeting for their own advertisements
- Share information with advertisers interested in selling products or services to you
- Provide information to a data broker who could then sell your information to others
- Combine information from one app with information collected by other apps and websites to create a detailed profile about your online activity — and off
If you use even just one or two apps, it’s astounding the amount of information they have likely on you. If your child has a phone or tablet, the same goes for them.
How to Stop App Tracking
If you don’t want your personal information and location tracked and shared, then you’ll need to learn how to stop app tracking on iPhone or Android devices. You should do this for every phone in your household to make sure all of your loved ones are protected from tracking programs.
Keep in mind that some apps require special permissions in order to function properly on your phone. You may have to assess how much you want to use those apps and what information you allow them to access. Many apps request far more information and access than they need to operate, so shutting off those unnecessary permissions is a good idea.
How to Stop App Tracking on an iPhone
Apple made a big splash when they released iOS 15, which requires user approval for app tracking. Each app must ask for your permission to track you, and they have to tell you what information they’re tracking and how they’re going to use it. This way, you can decide if that’s something you want to allow.
If you want to stop app tracking on iPhone devices, start by paying attention to the pop-up that asks for tracking permission when you download an app. Say no, or at least look at what data they want to collect and what they intend to do with it.
You can also go into your settings and remove permission for any app at any time. Tap Settings and select Privacy, then select Tracking. You will see a list of all apps that track your data at the current moment. You can turn those off if you don’t want to authorize tracking.
The downside is that many apps are finding ways to work around these newly required permissions. You can assume that any app running on your mobile device can access your location, name, stored financial information, purchasing history, and much more. The best defense is to use as few apps as possible, make sure they’re operated by trustworthy companies, and check your permission settings often.
How to Stop App Tracking on an Android
Every app listed in the Google Play Store must ask for permissions before accessing certain features on your phone. For instance, you have to give permission for an app to access your photos, make a phone call from your device, or use your microphone and camera.
To see what access the apps on your Android device have, tap Settings and select Apps and Notifications. Some phones may have slightly different terminology, but it’s similar on most. You’ll see a list of all apps currently running on your device.
Tap each app one at a time and select Permissions. This will show you what permissions each app currently has. If there’s no need for an app to have that permission, you can turn it off with a single tap.
The next step is to go into Settings and open the Location section. You can turn off location tracking for all apps on your device here. Keep in mind that many apps need location access to work properly. For instance, your Chipotle app needs to know where you are so you can get that burrito (with extra guac) delivered.
How to Help Protect Your Kids
Make sure your children understand the importance of saying no when they’re asked for app tracking permission. You can shut down a lot of the tracking software out there today just by ensuring your child says no every time they’re asked. It’s a good habit to start! And now that you know how to stop app tracking on iPhone and Android devices, you’re ahead of the game.
Another way to help protect your kids online is to download Bark and monitor your child’s digital activities for signs of potential dangers like bullying, online predators, depression, and more. Bark gives you peace of mind and insight into your child’s digital world, so start your free trial today.
Have you heard about the NGL app? NGL stands for “not gonna lie,” a term often used right before someone confesses something potentially embarrassing or controversial. The app was designed to give Instagram users an opportunity to receive anonymous messages or reviews from their followers. If that reminds you of ASK.FM, it’s similar but not quite the same concept.
So, what is NGL, and is it safe for your kids? Let’s dig into the details.
What Is NGL?
NGL is a newer app that launched in November 2021. It works as an add-on to Instagram, allowing users to send one another messages without revealing their identities.
Think of it as a half-anonymous conversation. If you connect your Instagram account to the NGL app, you can invite your followers or anyone who comes across your IG account to send you messages. You can look in the app to read the messages but don’t know who sent them. Since they click on a link in your IG account to send the message, they do know your identity — or at least as much as you reveal through Instagram.
Thet NGL App’s Unique Algorithm
NGL tries to separate itself from ASK.FM, SendIT, and other anonymous apps by detecting bullying and inappropriate language. The algorithm highlights certain words often used by bullies or trolls and automatically removes those messages. It’s meant to reduce the risk of unkind anonymous messages making their way into message boxes.
The algorithm seems like a step up from the no-limits environment of ASK.FM, but that’s only if it actually works all the time. There are many unkind messages that still make their way into message boxes because there’s no way an algorithm can detect the intention behind every message sent. Somewhere, bullying will slip through the cracks.
How Does the NGL App Work?
If you want to use the NGL app, you follow these steps:
- Download NGL onto your mobile device. It’s available for Apple and Android devices.
- When prompted on the app, you enter your Instagram handle and connect your account to the app.
- Next, you copy the link provided on the app and enter it into your Instagram story or bio.
- Now your followers can click your NGL and send you anonymous messages.
- Any received messages will show up in the NGL app.
- You can post some of the reviews or messages to your Instagram account if you want.
Is the NGL App Free?
It’s free to download the NGL app and connect it to your social media, and you can receive unlimited messages for free. There is a paid upgrade that allows you to receive hints to help you detect who sent the messages you receive. Many reviews of the app express disappointment in that feature because the hints are so vague or nonsensical that they provide little to no help determining the author of a message.
NGL App and Message Authenticity
If the messages you receive on the NGL app are always anonymous, how can you be sure that they were sent by a real person? This question was the center of a legal dispute between NGL and competing anonymous app SendIt. SendIt claims NGL’s developer stole valuable information in order to create a knockoff version of their app, including the idea of sending automatically generated questions to users.
Many users have also gone online to discuss their suspicions that the messages they receive aren’t really coming from their followers or friends on social media. The evidence is mounting that the app may generate random messages and send them out in order to improve engagement metrics and trick users into believing they’re getting more attention.
Is NGL Safe for Kids?
So, is NGL safe for kids? If you see some obvious problems with the NGL app for teens without even using it, you’re not alone. When kids invite the world to send them private anonymous messages, there is a lot of room for negativity and abuse. Even if the app utilizes a special algorithm trained to detect many words and phrases used by bullies and trolls, there’s no way it can detect every message with negative intentions and remove it before harm is done to the recipient.
Add that the app may send messages generated by a computer instead of a real person, and there’s even more room for confusion. Users can waste a lot of time trying to figure out who sent a specific message and may even pay to upgrade their account to receive hints. If the message isn’t from a real person, it’s a complete waste of time and money.
The Smart Way to Protect Your Kids
If you don’t want your kids to use the NGL app, talk to them about the risks and potential dangers. Explain that they can’t trust that every message is coming from a real person, and asking for anonymous interactions leaves the door open to predators and unkind behavior. There’s no reason for any child or teen to open themselves to messages that could harm their emotional health — even if it seems like everyone else is doing it.
The next step is to add a layer of safety for your kids by signing up for Bark. It allows you to connect with more than 30 social media platforms your child may use and will send you a notification when your child downloads a new app. Explore how it works online and start your free trial today.