Mar 2012 17

Today I stumbled upon a question about what makes the apps for kids really children-friendly. Probably it is not enough to just throw in some funny characters and sounds. One has to carefully think it through, consider possible issues and positive moments. Let’s discuss some aspects that can impact the ultimate decision of buying the app or not.

Navigation of the app

The first thing that comes into mind is the navigation of the app. Of course, most children learn to use iPhones very fast. However easy and intuitive navigation makes the game to stand out for me. Having hundreds of different options may sound nice, but unless it is easy to set them and unless the default settings are just right to start playing, it can make the app a mood-killer.

Is it showing ads?

Another question that comes into mind when talking kids-friendly apps, are monetization options the game is using. For my kids I prefer to have payed apps rather than the ones that are loaded with ads and pop-ups offering to buy something. The only way I find it possible to be used is a “Lite” or free version of the game allowing to check the app out before buying. However it is silently expected not to have them in the purchased version of the game.

The rules of the iTunes do not prevent from putting ads and promotional pop-ups into the payed apps however. Therefore many developers still employ these tactics even in the payed apps. If you take the developer’s standpoint, he or she wants to make more money or at least let you know about other great apps he has. And that is also not necessarily bad. The problem is to not make it intrusive and prevent accidental purchases as much as possible. In order for ads and pop-ups to be children-friendly it is important to check out when do they actually pop-up. Unfortunately, it is often just in the middle of the game – inevitably leading to the kids pressing on them. You can check out this interesting article which also touches a bit on the issue. 

My advice is to password-protect any purchases on iTunes. This way you can at least avoid unwanted stress of accidental purchases.

Content of the app

And the third thing I think about in this discussion is the content of the app or game. Funny images or sounds making the child laugh but not really teaching him or her anything – is it children-friendly? Probably yes. We need time-killers sometimes.

What about the game where you have to “kill” something else than time? That is already a different story. In general I would argue that it is not a children-friendly game. Although it is possible that kids like it, and it is possible that after some age parents can consider such games acceptable. All in all, even Angry Birds is such type of the game. Is it children-friendly? It is up to parents to decide!

Give us your thoughts! What do you consider to be or not to be a children-friendly app?

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