KidsPrivacy is starting off 2014 with a new look. I am closing in on my 3rd anniversary and felt the site needed an update. Not only does KidsPrivacy look better, it has some new features. I have expanded the menu so you can easily find posts about the latest apps, devices and online safety & privacy concerns. If you have questions about specific apps or kids living life online, please post them on Ask KidsPrivacy and I will answer questions every Friday.
Besides updating the site, I took some time to review my most successful posts in 2013. Overwhelmingly, the posts you were most interested in talked about what parents need to know regarding specific apps and websites. In 2014, I will continue to focus on keeping you up to date on the latest apps. But, we need to do more than just follow our kids from app to app. Soon, I will publish a guide on having the digital talk with your child and/or teen.
Thanks for a great 2013 and looking forward to 2014!
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”).
Set restrictions. Many devices like smartphones and tablets allow parents to restrict access to certain apps and features. For instance, you can block the child from downloading apps that are above a certain age rating or ones that allow the user to make purchases from within the app. Explore your device’s settings and set these restrictions based on what you feel is appropriate for your child.
Be hands-on. No tool can ever replace being involved. Check out what apps your child is downloading and using, and talk to them about what the apps do and why they find them fun or useful. Apps are tools and tools can be used for good and bad. Making sure your child is supervised and educated about what is appropriate is critical.
For more information about the ESRB and their tools for parents check out: