Passing the iPad to kids to keep them entertained on road trips or to stay quiet during meetings has become the norm. For the most part, this works out great. Little Sally is entertained by Netflix or Angry Birds while the adults drive to Grandma’s house or have their important phone calls. Sometimes, however, little Sally spends $2,500 of real money to fight zombies. Apple is working to prevent this from happening with their latest developer guidelines.
The Guardian Reported that Apple made the changes to comply with newly-enforced FTC regulations that prevent apps from collecting personal data of children. They will be implementing a kids section in the App Store and allow children have their own iTunes accounts. Each app must be filtered into one of three categories: ages 5 and under, ages 6-8, or ages 9-11.
Complying with FTC guidelines is the job of both app creators and the app stores. It’s Apple’s job to review the apps that are added to the children’s section to make sure they’re following the regulations, and it’s the job of developers to create apps that are FTC complacent.
SnapChat creating SnapKidz is the perfect example of this. SnapChat has become an app for sharing more than just pictures of weird faces and food. The self-destructing photos have become a source for sexts and flirty adult content. In order to eliminate the risk of accidentally sending pictures of one’s delicate areas to your little cousin instead of the hot girl you’ve been dating, SnapChat creators made SnapKidz. The app lets children under 13 take photos, draw on them, and save the images, but they can’t send them out or receive pictures from others.
As an adult, I’m kind of jealous. In a world where we should expect apps, websites, and all forms of technology to follow our every move, having the ability to download apps that aren’t allowed to know everything about us seems nice. The ability to use an app without getting targeted ads based on my behavior after 30 seconds of use might be refreshing.
The FTC is trying to create places specifically for kids to prevent them from lying about their ages to access websites. In 2009, 38% of 12 year-olds said they are on at least one social networking site, which means the age-gates set up to keep users younger than 13 out aren’t effective. If Apple lets younger users have their own accounts, they can make sure they don’t have the ability to download apps or access the adult content. This won’t keep all children off of Facebook, Tumblr and other social networks, but it’s a start.