Apps for and used by children have been in the news recently.
In the UK a five year old managed to run up a bill of £1,710.43 in paid for add-ons for a game which he had downloaded free from Apple’s app store. He was using his parent’s iPad (with permission) to download and play Zombie v Ninja. The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate the ‘free app/paid for features’ marketplace.
More than two thirds of children and teenagers in the UK own a smart device. According to a survey conducted in the UK by OnePoll, 36% of children aged 11-16 download mobile apps without their parents’ permission. 40% of boys admitted to having done this, compared with 31% of girls.
The survey also found that youngsters can increase their families’ monthly charge by an average of £34. The highest bills were generated by eight-year olds! The researchers estimate that parents are incurring approximately £30 million in ‘unauthorised’ purchases.
In Australia the Cartoon Network researched the media habits of 1800 children and discovered that game playing and video watching (rather than social media) are their main internet pastimes. They research also found that:
- 48% of Australian homes have a tablet device
- 30% of children use tablets to access the internet
- 69% of children aged 4-14 use apps , and use an average of 7 per month
- 32% drop in game console usage since previous survey in 2011
(These findings are echoed by a recent report from the US showing how teenagers are leaving ‘traditional’ social media sites in favour of alternatives.)
Developing apps for children – “tappable apps”
At a recent conference for developers of educational apps for children, three key challenges were identified:
- Working within appropriate privacy guidelines
- The challenge of obtaining feedback from ‘non-verbal’ young children
- The challenge of identifying compelling content for young people
The conclusion – make the apps as “tappable, responsive, and interruptive” as possible.
Best content for children in Europe
The EC has just launched the second European Award for Best Content for Kids, looking for ‘positive content initiatives’ across the region.