Wearable devices or wearable tech such as smart watches, fitness trackers, GPS locators and body-mounted action cameras are designed to be worn and track personal data. There are several wearables available for kids and even pets — some just for fun and some that allow you to keep track of them.
Wearables often link to apps which collect information. Many have sensors to collect physical and biological information, as well as location tracking. Fitness trackers or ‘smart collars’ for pets are examples of where a location tracker is used to map where you or your pets go.
Wearables have traditionally been marketed to adults, however there is now a range of products specifically designed for children and pets. For kids, these are typically variations of adult devices like a Go Pro or FitBit.
What to look out for
- Most wearables are linked to apps or software programs that collect tracking data. This may be personal information such as steps taken, or GPS data that pinpoints your location.
- Some apps collect information for marketing purposes, and you may agree to this when you agree to the app’s terms and conditions.
- Any data that is collected and stored in the Cloud may not be stored securely.
- If the information storage is inadequately secured, the data may be accessed by other people and shared without consent, and may allow outsiders to contact your child online without you knowing.
How to stay safe
- Keep track of your devices and associated accounts. Losing a device can allow third-party access to any information stored on it.
- Secure your device, accounts and apps with strong passcodes and passwords.
- Only pair via Bluetooth with another device you are aware of and can control.
- Manage your device even when it is not in use — store it in a safe place, where someone else cannot access it, whenever you take it off.
- Limit the amount of information that is shared with the software and third parties.
- Be mindful about over-sharing. Most fitness trackers and smart watches allow users to link with friends, giving them access to sleep patterns, exercise times and locations, and other health information.