Google is introducing a new programme called ‘Designed for Families’, which allows Android developers to categorise their apps as family-friendly in order to provide consumers with “new ways to browse, search, and discover high quality apps and games for their families”.
Participating apps will be eligible for “upcoming family-focused experiences on Google Play” that will help parents “discover age-appropriate content and make more informed choices”, Eunice Kim, product manager at Google Play, wrote on the Android developers blog.
According to Kim, there are thousands of Android developers creating experiences for families and children like PBS Kids,Tynker and Crayola, “who tailor their apps to provide high quality content – from optimising user interface design for children to building interactive features that both educate and entertain”.
For starters, interested developers need to opt-in to their app or game through the Google Play Developer Console, after which the Google Play team will review the submission to verify that it meets their Designed for Families programme requirements.
The requirements include restrictions on ads, which cannot be displayed if they are not intended for users under 13 years old. For instance, this bars adult or sexually suggestive content, dating sites and violent and graphic content.
A coalition of consumer and youth advocacy groups recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in the US, arguing that Google has used “unfair and deceptive practices” in connection with its new YouTube Kids app.
This included the “intermixing” of advertising and programming in ways that “deceive young children who lack the ability to distinguish between the two”, and “branded channels for companies like McDonald’s, Barbie and Fisher-Price”.