Preparing to launch a new Kids category on its popular App Store, Apple has significantly tightened the rules dictating what app developers can do in software aimed at children.
The news comes after a number of children ran up huge bills for their parents after buying large quantities of digital goods through apps. Some were deemed too young to understand what they had done, and Apple refunded parents sums running into thousands of pounds.
The new Kids category was announced in June at the company’s World Wide Developers’ Conference, and is set to focus on categories for children under five, 6-8 years old and aged nine to 11. It will give a home for a wide range of apps from companies as diverse as Disney and Duck Duck Moose.
A report on children’s apps by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading is due in the autumn. Communications regulator Ofcom found that 91 per cent of parents with a tablet say their children either use it or have one of their own. More than four out of ten parents said their children use a tablet every day.
Sally Plumridge, International Marketing Director for Europe and Asia at children’s technology company LeapFrog, said “Apple’s announcement is certainly a significant one as we are seeing more and more parents rightfully place pressure on brands to deliver age appropriate solutions in the kids’ technology arena. So many children now have access to devices such as smartphones and tablets, and they are often just a click away from inappropriate or chargeable content.” She claimed LeapFrog’s rival tablet, the Ultra, offered no risk because it was aimed solely at younger users.