NEW: Kids category in the Apple store and iTunes accounts for children under 13

As we all know, children are strongly drawn to our beloved iDevices, and no matter how hard we’d try, it’s difficult to keep them at a distance for too long. Sometimes we are happy about this (when we want a few moments for ourselves or just need something to stop them from crying), but usually we are afraid that something bad might happen.

It seems that, in time, everyone came to realise that children are an equally important public for iDevices so recently, a new Kids category was launched especially for them in the iTunes Apple store. This is great news for those parents who always dreamed about finding something kid appropriate without wading too much through potentially adult apps. Unveiled for the first time at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC ) back in June, the “Kids category” arrived at the Apple store two weeks ago, alongside with IOS 7 . It is not a separate app but a separate section within Apple Store, designed especially for children and parents. The good news is that the section comes with certain restrictions. We all heard by now the story about the 5 year old kid who racked an iTunes bill of £1700 with his parents' credit card. Nobody wants to be ever in such a situation, for sure. That’s why Apple has now created a special category dedicated just to the kids, in the iTunes store and also has clarified its guidelines regarding apps for children. Age range and thematic collections The apps in “Kids category” are sub-categorized in three age ranges, including sections for Ages 5 and Under, Ages 6-8 and Ages 9-11.

The apps are also categorized on thematic collections, such as Create & Play, Learning made fun, Shapes & colors, Interactive kids stories, Musical apps or Explore the world. There is something for every kid and for all their needs, and although most of these apps have been already in the Apple store before, in the Entertainment or Games sections, the new Kids category seems to be a curated version for children of these two. A stricter policy for kids apps developers Some big name kids brands (such as Disney or Toca Boca), get a higher profile as a kids app maker as they are given their own collections inside the Kids section. On the other hand, the kids app developers have to meet stricter requirements not only from COPPA (Childrens’ Online Privacy Protection) but from Apple itself, in order to be able to post downloads in the App store. The good news is that it seems that most of them don’t have too much to change in order to compile with the new policies.
As Mindshapes Joint CEO Chris Michaels declared for TechCrunch, “ the changes were minor”. “We have included a privacy policy within the app, per Apple’s requirements. We had already implemented other features for compliance, notably parent gating on any transactional or outbound link-based content, earlier in 2013,” he said.
A drawback for some parents would be the fact that most of the apps in Kids category are paid. For some others, this is the status quo of the apps’ quality and a guaranty that there will be no more advertisement-filled free apps and their children will enjoy the interactive and educational apps without being tricked into purchase behaviors. “Apple is clearly doing the right things and trying to stamp out some of the abuse that has happened in this sector with unscrupulous app developers tricking kids into making in-app purchases,” said Gregg Spiridellis, co-founder at StoryBots for Google Trender [] iTunes accounts for children under 13 Determined to offer a wider access to information and education, Apple also decided to allow children under 13 to register with an iTunes account. However, this will only be possible if funneled through any approved educational institution and with a document attesting that the parents are also agreeing. This is a complex measure which aims to help children with gaining quick access at the educational data available in the App Store and iBookstore. Apple even thinks about a new system which will offer the teachers the possibility to control the content installed by children. Not a bad idea at all and I’m pretty sure that, in time, these changes will lead to growth in sales in the Apple iTunes store. You need to know also that before Apple created the Kids category in the Apple store, something very similar was created by Moms with Apps , a group of app developers (originally all moms) who shared family friendly apps. The apps were organized by subject areas and ages, learning focus and developer and had the aim to help families and educators locate apps that target children’s needs.
May 07, 2014