Dear Parents: Not All Games and Apps Are Kid-Friendly!

In the world of tech, video games & consumer apps play a significant role, but it's important for parents to be aware of the types of games & apps their children are using. While some may perceive all games & most apps to be harmless, it's not always safe to assume. When it comes to video games, the ESRB ratings are in place for a reason, but at the end of the day... the game industry can't raise your children.

Locate the rating:

For Google Play apps, click on the app and you will find the rating at the top... just beneath the title of the game. The age rating is to the right of the game review score, and download count. Apps, Movies, and TV have ratings, but I realized that eBooks are not rated (from what I've seen).

For App Store apps, the rating is right next to the Game and App titles. Apple TV+ has a rating in a similar area as the Google Play ratings (slightly below the title). When it comes to books, there is no age rating here either.

It's worth noting that some apps ask for location information and may even contain location-tracking features. Select apps use this information to ensure that your mobile order is to the right location, but others have no need for it and may result in undesired use of this information if it ends up in the wrong hands. While some use a tracking feature, others ask for this information and it could be showcased on a public profile to be seen by someone unsavory. A number of popular apps are social media-based, and allow you to chat with others, which basically means your children have the ability to chat with anyone in most cases.

This increases their chance of hearing and seeing certain things you do not approve of. While these apps have an age range, anyone can misrepresent themselves to gain access to most social media apps. That includes your children, and on the flip side... we don't know if the person claiming to be a teenager is actually a teenager at times. Talking with your children to establish safe precautions and healthy habits as part of an agreement to have a phone, is probably one of the best routes to take. From there you can present the reasons why you want them to be careful with such a useful tool. With great power, comes great responsibility... literally. 

Chat doesn't stop at social media apps. There are chat features in select games that lack true regulation that also include the ability to share links. This can be concerning, as there are individuals who exploit any opportunity available to them, potentially exposing children to inappropriate content, and seeking out their location by request or by obtaining their information.

Knowing the apps on your child's phone, specifically to research them... can go a long way. By doing so, parents can thoroughly review each app by its name to determine if any raise concerns and require uninstallation. This can be part of an agreement established with your child in order to have a phone. We don't need to go down this rabbit hole... but there are parents who wish they established such an agreement before avoidable issues were ushered in.

Additionally, parents should check for a "Hidden Space" on their child's Android phone. To access this area, they can slide their fingers both upwards and downwards simultaneously (using two fingers) on the home screen.

  • Within the app drawer, sliding to the right will reveal this hidden space.

Parents can verify what I'm explaining by navigating to the settings and scrolling down to locate "Hidden Space," which should be positioned just above the "About" option at the bottom.

If their Android phone has a different user interface, you can search for tutorials on YouTube to get assistance. Being proactive in understanding and monitoring the digital landscape that our children navigate is crucial for their safety and well-being. By staying informed and actively investigating the apps and features available on their phones, parents can better protect their children from potential risks associated with certain digital content.

If you were wondering if there was an easier route... don't worry, there actually is. Check out the links below for kid-friendly phone manufacturers... Gabb & Pinwheel. Both phones deliver the things your child may need, and nothing you don't want them to have. Apps they do have access to, have been vetted, and the controls are in your hands. So see if one of the options below works for you.

Sophima | Guest Contributor
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