The iTunes App Store has New Requirements for Kids Apps

Aug 22, 2013

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Iphone Geeks

When it comes to apps from the iTunes App Store, children can be download-happy. If an app looks "fun," is the most recently released and is free, kids want it.

When it only takes a simple click to download, you can be certain the app will be loading shortly. In a study done by the NPD group, the average number of gaming apps on a device accessed by children is 12, with 88 percent of those apps being acquired for free.

Your devices may be loaded with mobile apps, but you should monitor and control which apps your child is downloading. This could help by not only preventing video or mobile game addiction, but also protecting your child from inappropriate games. In order to assist in this effort, there is an act called the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that helps protect the privacy of children under the age of 13.

Fortunately for parents, Apple is constantly keeping up with the trends and legal changes. Since COPPA was updated in July, Apple made sure its App Store Review Guidelines were up-to-date with the new rules. With four new categories to adhere to, Apple needed to add a new section to its review guidelines entitled "Kids Apps," which describes the requirements for apps targeted at children.

COPPA further defined personal information "with four new categories: geolocation information, photos or videos containing a child's image or audio files with a child's voice from a child, screen or user name and persistent identifiers," informs.

In order to be consistent with these new categories, Apple requires that apps include "a privacy policy [that] must be made specifically for kids in the age ranges of 5 and under, 6-8, or 9-11, and must obtain parental consent for any e-commerce, such as in-app purchasing."

Also, Apple may ask "for a date of birth...for the purpose of compliance, and any sharing of personal information—which includes location data, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers and chat capability—must follow applicable children's privacy requirements."

Thanks to a lawsuit Apple settled earlier this year, the rules also state that kids apps cannot display advertisements through behavioral targeting. The advertising also has to be age-appropriate.

With these new guidelines, it is hopeful that apps made for kids will be better suited for their audience and less lucrative. Whatever happened to supplying children with educational products and not advertisement-invested knock-offs?

In spite of these new regulations, parents must stay vigilant. Be sure to know what your children are downloading. Try using the parental controls options included with the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.  You can password-protect the downloading of apps to ensure that your child asks your permission each time. To do this, go to Settings>General>Restrictions>Enable Restrictions and turn “off” Installing Apps.

If your child must ask for permission each time she wants to download an app, she will likely think twice about choosing apps. Or she will realize that not all apps are vital.

I work for Net Nanny and all my opinions are my own.