Mobile apps may or may not be collecting your child’s data—but here’s why you should assume they are

This week two democratic senators are calling on federal regulators to investigate if children’s apps are tracking their data.

Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission, writing they are concerned that numerous apps are potentially violating the law.

Without explicit parental consent, it is illegal to collect data on children under the age of 13 according to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in 2000.

This comes after last month when the New Mexico Attorney Generalsued the maker of app Fun Kid Racing, as well as the online ad businesses run by Google, Twitter and three other companies.

The suit accused the companies of violating the law, and that Google misled parents by allowing apps to remain in its Google Play store children’s section after it was notified by researchers that thousands of apps may be tracking young children.

“The problem is this – we don’t know where the onus lies,” New York Times reporter Edmund Lee told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.

Lee says the law isn’t clear on whether it should be the platform such as Google or Apple to make sure the apps in their stores are complying with the law, whether it’s up to the game developer or if it should be up to the third party data firm tracking the data.

“So there’s a whole system in place that everyone keeps passing the buck and there’s no case law yet,” says Lee. “Even the legislation – it’s not entirely clear who is ultimately responsible.”

Fortnite

So what should a parent do if they are concerned their child is being tracked?

Lee says, “You should just assume it’s going to happen you should assume you’re going to be tracked.”

“Right now it’s the ‘Wild West’ there are very few protections, few sort of places of enforcement around it, and that’s why it’s hard as a parent and as a kid to navigate,” he added.

However, Lee notes most of these are harmless games, and the tracking data is used for advertising purposes, which is how these companies make money.

For parents worried about their child’s privacy – Lee says he tells his own daughter to keep her communication online only with people she knows.

“You’re not going to be able to look and know every single piece of data that’s being floated out there until there’s legislation and case law in place. But in the meantime make sure you know who your kid is talking to and it shouldn’t be strangers and it shouldn’t be someone they just met online.”

[“source=businessinsider”]

How to fund child’s education: Take a loan or use own funds?

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Any big-ticket spending requires you to either have the required funds in place or a financing option. When dealing with long-term financial goals, such as higher education of children, you have the advantage of planning much in advance. Here’s how you can go about the planning.

Start early

A lot of parents have an inclination to send their children abroad for higher education, at least at the post-graduate level, said Suresh Sadagopan, a certified financial planner and founder of Ladder 7 Financial Advisories. “In that case, the planning needs to start really early. They would need a horizon of at least 10-15 years. When we talk of international education at post-graduate level today, most likely it is not going to happen below ₹40 lakh,” he said.

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How do you work towards saving that amount? Prakash Praharaj, founder, Max Secure Financial Planners, said that the future cost of a particular course needs to be calculated taking into account at least 10% annual inflation. “Then calculate the current assets and investments accumulated for these goals. Then the remaining gap for the aimed amount is to be filled through monthly SIPs over the years,” he said.

Starting an SIP of ₹5,000-7,000 in an equity fund for 15 years and increasing it by 10-20% each year could help. However, Sadagopan said, given the fact that there are so many ongoing expenses these days, including other loans, it becomes difficult for parents to put aside a huge amount for the child’s post-graduation alone.

Consider taking loan

Even if you have been working on creating a higher education corpus, you need to consider taking an education loan. At present, the total expenses for higher education abroad could be in the range of ₹1 crore per child, Sadagopan said.

“A realistic thing that parents need to realise is that the child’s higher education is not their only goal. Retirement is also an important goal and they need to be aware of the fact that you can get a loan for all other requirements but not for retirement,” he said.

Own funds versus loan

But if someone has already accumulated the required amount, why should another repayment burden be taken on? The answer lies in two things, Praharaj said. “A cost benefit analysis suggests that taking an education loan and keeping the accumulated amount invested works in your favour. Moreover, it also helps in developing a sense of responsibility in the student. The realisation that a repayment has to be done by them keeps them focussed,” he said.

The math of keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead suggests that taking a loan results in significant benefits. For instance, if ₹1 crore is kept invested and an education loan for the same amount is taken, at the end of nine years, including the repayment holiday on the education loan, the net benefit could be around ₹87 lakh (see graph).

This includes the tax saved on repayment of loan. Borrowers of education loans can claim deduction on the interest paid, though not on the principal amount. Also, unlike in home loans, there is no limit to the amount that can be claimed as deduction.

Sadagopan said it is better that the parents keep the money with themselves and let the child take the loan. “In future if the child is struggling to find a job and pay back, you can step in to help at that point,” he said.

[“Source-livemint”]

YouTube Studio: better insights or a work in progress?

Will YouTube Studio’s new metrics be better for marketers?

In June of last year, YouTube announced that Creator Studio was about to change. A beta version named YouTube Studio was undergoing testing with hundreds of thousands of users – or should I say ‘creators’.

After nine months of nurturing their new baby, YouTube Studio was unveiled last week. Promises of efficiency, empowerment and increased joy, packaged with new features, metrics and insight. The increased data commitment has been played-up by YouTube.

But did the much anticipated promises deliver? Well, sort of.

YouTube Studio features include three new metrics: Impressions; Impressions Click-Through Rate; Unique Viewers. YouTube says these will give us better understanding of video performance with the aim of helping us produce more impactful video.

What’s an Impression? It’s when a viewer sees one of your video thumbnails; Impressions tell us the potential reach of our videos. It’s an ‘opportunity to view’.

What’s Impressions Click-Through Rate? Simply put, it’s the percentage of Impressions that turned into a video view.

What’s a Unique View? Well, to quote YouTube, it shows us “the estimated number of different people who watch our videos over a period of time.”

And there lies one of my issues. Data should not be estimated. We should be able to know the difference between a unique view and a repeat view. Why is YouTube estimating metrics? As for the ‘opportunity to view’ this just feels like a return to a time when we couldn’t accurately measure irrefutable data. perhaps it’s just me, as I’ve always hated fluffy measurements. In my PR and creative agency days I was forced to peddle PRVs and ‘Opportunities to See’. I hated both.

YouTube’s intent of delivering better insight and metrics should be applauded. It’s a key facet of success for other social media channels and absolutely is the direction they should be taking their Studio platform. Data that helps to evolve the production quality and impact of our videos is welcomed. I just can’t help but feel like this is a work in progress, rather than a refined proposition that’s ready to roll.

I’ll explain why: YouTube tell us that if we’re seeing a low percentage of Impressions convert to Impressions Click-Through Rate, then our thumbnail and title require work. That may be correct in some cases, but we can’t ignore how busy some pages are with thumbnails. Watch a video through to completion and then see how many thumb nails are served to you. It’s busy. Undoubtedly, Impressions will be recorded when users haven’t seen our thumbnails. To be fair though, the same criticism could be made of other social media channels.

Clearly, the Impressions Click-Through Rate is a useful metric. Being able to asses video performance will be insightful. I’m just not sure we needed the Impressions metric.

Now for the good news: we’re excited about YouTube Studio Dashboard – the single view of your data, insights and news. We’ll see three pieces of insight here:

Video Snapshot: A snapshot of our latest video performance, versus past videos – over the same period of time. Quickly, we’ll be able to ascertain if we’ve a production that is resonating, or if refinements are required. This should help us do more of what works, and learn from what isn’t.

Personalised Recommendations: YouTube says this will surface Creator Academy content based on our specific needs. Over time, we’ll also see insight into why certain videos perform better than others. Again, this will help with refinement and development.

News: Dynamic news and community information that is served to us. Meaning we don’t have to discover news, it finds us.

We expect Video Snapshot and Personalised Recommendations to be a real hit with users and the single view definitely receives a thumbs up. It’s just a shame we can’t be as positive about the new data metrics.

Data is resolute. The challenge with data is that it’s sometimes unstructured, requiring a framework to organise and help make the unstructured, structured. Data isn’t, and should never be estimated.

There is no denying that YouTube is onto something with their direction for YouTube Studio. In its current state though, it should be in production, rather than distributed for release. After nine-months of testing, you have to ask who was testing the platform, and why haven’t these basic flaws been flagged sooner?

As my old school tutor would say: “a good effort, but work still to be done!”

[“Source-thedrum”]

5 Apps That Can Help You Save Big, Or Even Get Paid

Image result for 5 Apps That Can Help You Save Big, Or Even Get Paid

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many apps we can download on our phones promise to save us money or earn rewards. From scanning a barcode to taking a survey, there are hundreds of programs you can choose from.

One blogger tried dozens of them and narrowed it down to the top five free apps she’s cashed in on.

“All of my family will come to me and say, ‘I’m going to be buying this, how can I save money?’” blogger Sarah Carlson said.

She’s come a long way from clipping coupons for her mom every Sunday — now, Carlson shares her savings secrets on realhousewivesofmn.com. She regularly blogs about the apps she’s tried.

“There are a lot of apps out there right now where you can either save money or make money too,” she said.

And she had no trouble coming up with her top five.

Shopkick

“I think my top money saving app is Shopkick,” she said.

Shopkick offers rewards for shopping online or for walking in to stores. Scan bar codes on products for more kicks or points. Then, redeem them for gift cards or merchandise from Target to Best Buy to Starbucks.

“It’s really easy and that’s why I like it so much.”

ShopSavvy

Shop Savvy made the second pick on her list. Scan the bar code and the app searches stores to find the best price. Most will price match if you find a better deal.

Carlson usually uses it any time she’s about to spend more than 20 dollars for an item. She saved 50 dollars on a TV the last time she used it.

“You’re still walking out of the same store with the same item with 50 more dollars in your pocket. Why not?” she said.

PocketFlip

Don’t bother leaving your home to be able to use the third on her list — PocketFlip is survey-based.

“You go through the surveys and earn points, and once you earn enough points you can cash out for gift cards,” Carlson said.

Each survey is under five minutes. They’re usually based on beauty and home products commonly used.

Ibotta

“These apps are a little bit different in that you make the purchase first and then you upload the receipt afterwards,” Carlson said.

Ibotta pays you cash back on many items, mostly groceries. You cash out once you reach the $20 mark either through PayPal or a gift card.

Gift Card Granny

“Another great app is Gift Card Granny,” Carlson said. “Basically, it’s an app that shows you things that are for sale for less than their value.”

It’s that simple — shop for gift cards less than their value. We saw 21 percent savings for Fandango gift cards for movie ticket savings and 14 percent on Starbucks cards.

Feeling overwhelmed? Carlson suggests just picking a couple of apps and you’ll save something.

“Use the ones that work for you,” she said. “That’s better than saving nothing.”

Another app you might like is called Qapital. Everytime you use a credit card it rounds up to the nearest dollar, and that money goes straight into a savings account.

[“Source-minnesota”]