Google is making some changes to the Play Store that aims to make it easier to find safe apps for your kids.
Installing child-friendly apps on your Android device often feels like playing a game of roulette. An app that seems safe could contain unsuitable content for children or, worse, it could be a scam waiting to infect your Android device with malware.
That’s why the Play Store’s updated policies for children’s apps are so important. Going forward, identifying apps and games that are safe and suitable for your children will be a breeze. Here’s what’s changing.
Google Is Adding Non-Educational Apps to the Kids Tab
Many dangerous Android apps have names that are appealing to children, such as Cat Simulator and Girls Art Wallpaper. If you cannot trust an app that sounds as harmless as Cat Simulator, it would be fair to question what apps you can ever trust.
In the past, all of Google’s Teacher Approved apps on the Play Store were listed in the Kids tab. This was convenient because it meant parents could easily find safe educational games and apps all in one place. But it also meant it was hard to find non-educational apps outside of the Kids tab that were still suitable for children.
Google Play’s newest policy update fixes all that by adding all apps and games that earn the Teacher Approved badge or meet the store’s Families Policy requirements to the Kids tab. This means that you can find educational and non-educational apps all in the same, child-friendly tab.
The process of verifying all the new apps isn’t automatic, though. Google must review the apps and games that meet its Families Policy and approve them before they are added to the Kids tab. So it might take a time for the tab to fill out with every suitable app.
What Do Teacher-Approved Badges Mean Now?
Don’t assume that Google is phasing out its Teacher Approved program. The updated policies for kids’ apps actually expand the Teacher Approved program by allowing more types of games and apps to be eligible for it.
Before an app earns a Teacher Approved badge, it must first be approved by Google’s team of teachers and education experts. The team rates prospective Teacher Approved apps and games by answering questions such as:
- Is it age-appropriate?
- Is it a quality experience?
- Does it provide enrichment for the child?
- Is it delightful for children?
For parents who want to understand why an app or game was awarded a Teacher Approved badge, they’ll find an explanation in a section near the bottom of the listing. Parents with a keen eye will also notice that directly above the explanation section is a small box detailing what the app does with their child’s data in a section labeled Data Safety.
If an app or game abides by the Play Store’s Families Policy, you will see a badge with a smiley face that says Committed to follow the Play Families Policy.
Kids’ Apps Will Have Age-Appropriate Ads
The content of the actual apps or games is only one part of the equation when it comes to keeping children safe. If an app or game has ads, it is imperative that they are also age appropriate. That’s why Google’s updated policies for kids’ apps also mandates that developers whose apps only target children must only use the Families Self-Certified Ads SDK, which ensures any ads displayed in the app will be appropriate.
These new policy changes go into effect in early 2023. It may seem like a small step. But it will go a long way towards enabling parents to only install safe apps and games appropriate for growing minds.
Take the Guesswork Out of Finding Child-Appropriate Apps
Whether a child wants to learn about the solar system or lose themselves in a racing game, parents must have verifiable information to identify age-appropriate, non-malicious apps and games. Thanks to the Play Store’s updated app policies, it’s a cinch for parents to glean this kind of information on their own.
As long as parents stick to the Kids tab on Google Play, they won’t have to second-guess if an app or game is appropriate anymore. These policies are ultimately an extra layer of defense to protect the children’s wellbeing, which is what matters most.