In light of the trouble Google ran into over its YouTube Kids App, which was meant for children, but activists found mature content on it too, including advertisements meant for adults. While this case is still being investigated in the US courts, Google had to pay-out $19 million last year to parents, whose kids purchased and downloaded Google Play Store apps without their consent.
This time around, Google is playing it safe, and has introduced a highly detailed programme to filter content more carefully for children. It’s called ‘Designed for Families’, which showcases pre-approved, kids-safe apps on their Play Store. Under this system, all Android developers are now required to submit their apps for review and clearance.
Product Manager at Google Play, Eunice Kim said in a blog post, “Participating apps will be eligible for upcoming family-focused experiences on Google Play, that will help parents discover great, age-appropriate content and make more informed choices. “
Last month, Google had introduced major changes to their rating system for their apps, and they had partnered with a global rating agency for a universally accepted system. The Designed for Families programme is an extension of this new rating system. Apart from following the Policy Guidelines for Android Developers & Developer-Distributor Agreement, some of the new guidelines are:
- The app should be rated as ESRB Everyone or Everyone 10+, or equivalent
- No interest based marketing or Re-marketing allowed
- Must follow the consistent ad-format guidelines
- The ad content should follow the content policy of the new rating system and Designed for Families guidelines.
- Must follow the guidelines as showcased in the Designed for Families Addendum
Restrictions have been imposed on the ad content within the apps too. These are:
- Media Content: Ads for media that is not intended for users under 13 years old. Examples include advertisements for films rated higher than ‘PG’ by the MPAA.
- Video Games & Downloadable Software: Ads for downloadable software and electronic video games that are not consistent with the content rating of the app in which the ad is displayed. Examples include advertisements for apps or video games rated Teen or above by the ESRB.
- Controlled or Uncontrolled Substances: Ads for alcohol, tobacco, controlled or uncontrolled substances are prohibited.
- Gambling: Ads for simulated gambling, contests or sweepstakes promotions, even if free to enter, are prohibited.
- Adult and Sexually Suggestive Content: Ads with sexual and mature content that is intended for adult audiences and not suitable for users under the age of 13 are prohibited.
- Dating or Relationships: Ads for dating sites are prohibited.
- Violent Content: Ads with violent and graphic content that is intended for adult audiences and not suitable for users under the age of 13 are prohibited.
For more details on the Designed for Families guidelines.