While looking up information about video games and kids, I notice most articles feature either a picture of a young kid glued to an iPad or a teen in a dark room staring at a screen. These images are not entirely accurate. According to a survey from the Entertainment Software Association, over half of parents polled play video games with their kids at least once a month and a third play once a week. In fact, 52% of parents say video games are a positive part of their child’s life.
I find the challenge is finding a game the entire family wants to play together. Last April, I spoke with Nancy MacIntyre the CEO of Fingerprint about designing family games. Fingerprint’s philosophy is “to develop games that are fun for the whole family, but safe for kids.” Their game Flying Alphabetinisis proof that it is possible to create fun, safe and social games for both parents and kids.
Now, Fingerprint in partnership with TigerFace Games has launched several more games for families. These new apps allow kids and parents to play as a team or go head-to-head using a single tablet. As an added bonus, these games are educational helping kids with math, science, reading and languages.
Cosmic Reactor and Quick Tap are available now and the other two games will be out by the end of September. Right now, these games are for the iPad only. Us, Android users, will have to wait a little longer. If you are looking for a family game, check out these 4 new games by Fingerprint. Continue reading →
KidsPrivacy: Will the new COPPA rules include apps like Instagram or Vine that currently restricts to users to over 13?
Dona Fraser: Many websites and apps use a minimum age in their terms of service. COPPA compliance, however, is required for any online service that is deemed to be “directed to children,” or even in some cases where an app is directed to an audience that is a mix of kids and adults. There are a series of criteria that determine whether an online service is directed to children, but it essentially boils down to whether or not children are the primary target audience.
KP: For these apps outside of COPPA, what tools & tips does the ESRB have to help families decide if an app is appropriate for their child?
DF: Here are four things parents should keep in mind about managing their kids’ apps:
Check the rating. Parents can check an app’s age rating within the storefront it is purchased (it is usually listed on its detail page) but they can also look up information about apps by using the ESRB website or our free mobile app. ESRB recently expanded its rating system to add information that goes beyond content. Now apps can also be assigned notices, called Interactive Elements, that indicate if a game shares the user’s location with other users (“Shares Location”), shares user-provided personal information with third parties (“Shares Info”), or if users can interact with other users or may be exposed to user-generated content (“Users Interact”).
One of the best sites around for families is Commonsense Media. I am always on their website reading app reviews or catching up with Caroline Knorr’s Q&A. Besides helping parents, Commonsense Media also works with schools. One of their popular school programs for grades 3-5 is the “Digital Passport for Kids” app. This summer, Commonsense Media, in partnership with Time Warner Media, is making this app available for free to everyone.
The Digital Passport for Kids app teaches kids about being responsible online. The app starts with an introduction on how to create strong passwords. After the intro, kids can choose from 5 different scenarios. Each scenario begins with a video that features a kid telling their story about a problem they had online and how they solved it. After the story, kids play a game that reinforces what they learned from the video. Kids can complete the scenarios in any order. When they finish all of them, they earn a Digital Passport to online safety.
Both my 3rd grader and 5th grader played with this app. Overall, they thought the videos were “OK”. The games were definitely the highlight. Both commented, “that the games were actually games and not hidden quizzes.” They wanted to play the games over and over. My 3rd grader’s favorite was Search Shark and my 5th grader’s favorite was Twalkers. These games are more than just fun. After playing each game, they both learned some important online lessons.