What the Kids’ Category in the App Store Really Means For Parents

Editorial Note: Some time ago, we were approached by Pili Pop Labs, developers of English learning game Pili Pop, to share an original article about how the new Kids category in the App Store would affect iPad-loving parents. The article mentioned some great points, so we decided to publish it on the blog. Hopefully, many of you will find it helpful.

Apple presented the numerous new features of iOS7 during their WWDC keynote session back in June, but one announcement in particular has certainly struck a chord with parents - The new ‘Kids’ category in the App Store. This new addition seems to be Apple’s response to the heated criticism about in-app purchases and how easy it is for kids to run up large bills. But what does this actually mean for parents?

Great Apps Can be Found in One Place

Before iOS7, the App Store was becoming a vast sea of applications where only the big names could really make it, leaving smaller developers drowning. This was especially true for the many children’s apps available; they were previously divided into sections such as Games, Education or even Entertainment and not able to showcase their potential from within these busy categories. Thanks to this new section, children’s app developers finally have a place to be seen by parents who can really explore what is available for their child.

Better Organization to Find What’s Right for You

Apps are now divided into 3 age groups: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-11, making it easier for you to find the right app for your little one. This obviously helps the visibility of lesser-known childrens’ apps. For example, since the availability of the English-learning app Pili Pop in the 6-8 division of the ‘Kids’ category, there has been an increase in downloads and a higher retention rate. This reveals that parents are able to find appropriate apps for their child’s age group.

A Safer Digital Environment for Your Child

Another bit of good news is that Apple have put in place strict guidelines for developers who want to get their app featured in the ‘Kids’ category. Apple is clear about protecting kids’ privacy; all developers must make sure their app follows the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). There will no longer be any behavioural advertising and new parental gate features make it harder for a child to access in-app purchases or outbound web-links. Moms and Dads can finally put their minds at ease and discover great apps with confidence... Or can they?

A False Sense of Security?

By putting themselves into the ‘Games’ category rather than ‘Kids’, apps are not obliged to comply with the ‘under 13’ restrictions and will not include parental gates, even if they are clearly targeted at children. They are able to continue fooling both parents and their children who are not aware of the difference between classified “kid’s” apps and just games. The confidence built between developers and parents can easily be destroyed by a bad experience like this, making parents reluctant to download as freely in the future. Always be sure to look for apps from within the “Kids” category and check for the presence of in-app purchases.

Conclusion: A Big Step Forward, But Proceed with Caution

The new ‘Kids’ category is a big step in the right direction from a parental point of view. Parents can start to trust developers now the shady ones have been filtered out, but the larger issue remains: the misuse of in-App purchases. The addition of the “Kids” category does not mean that what your child downloads from elsewhere in the App Store will be safe. Remain vigilant and always verify the quality of apps!

Note: Guest post written by Abby Chinery, Marketing Assistant at Pili Pop Labs. Pili Pop Labs creates stimulating and engaging apps for youngsters to help them find the fun in learning languages.

For more information about Pili Pop Labs, head over to www.pilipop.com or send them a tweet at @PiliPopLabs!