New research has highlighted concerns from parents over the safety of the apps and websites used by children under the age of 16.

The survey from Age Check Certification Scheme found that 56% of these parents are concerned that tech companies have access to too much of their children’s personal data. 

It also found that 43% of parents do not believe the websites, apps and online services used by their children are safe.  

Furthermore, 56% are worried about the amount of time their child spends online, a statistic only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 72% admitting that recent lockdowns have led to a surge in their child’s screen time. 

The Age Appropriate Design Code, which sets out 15 standards that must be met by providers of online services likely to be accessed by children, puts a formal spotlight on how critical it is to protect children’s online privacy.  

The code comes into force on 2nd September 2021, meaning businesses have less than six months left to comply. Analysis by the Information Commissioner’s Office shows that although the majority of businesses are aware of the code, many are still in the preparation stages, resulting in the ICO urging organisations to take action now.

Tony Allen, founder and CEO of ACCS, said: “Protecting children in a digitally-driven world is absolutely essential, yet a considerable number of parents still don’t feel their children and their data are safe online.  

“It’s no secret that online environments can be dangerous, with children’s privacy amongst one of the biggest concerns in these spaces, so the code is a real step in the right direction. 

“Our survey, combined with the ICO’s recent analysis, solidifies the fact that while businesses understand the code there’s still a significant level of work for tech companies, whose content may be accessed by children, to do over the next six months to ensure they’re compliant.” 

ACCS tests that age-check systems work, ensuring that robust age-check procedures are followed by providers of age-restricted goods, content and services.

In the coming months, the business has plans to launch an Age Appropriate Design Code Certification Scheme to help tech companies comply with the code before the September deadline. 

The Age Appropriate Design Code is a new set of standards from the UK Government designed to explain how the General Data Protection Regulation applies in the context of children using digital services.  

The standards laid out in the code seek to ensure that children have the best possible access to online services, whilst minimising data collection and use. The new code applies to all digital services used by children including websites, apps, online games and connected toys.