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As parents, we are always on guard when it comes to what our children are exposed to, whether it’s too much sugar in their drinks, too much violence on TV, or the colorful words that come out of Uncle Larry’s mouth. Luckily for us, we live in a society that loves labels. Flip that juice box over, and you’ll see exactly how much sugar it contains. Read the fine print on your DVD cases, and you’ll find a rating. We have been around labels like these for many, many years, so I believe most of us feel pretty comfortable as to what they mean for our families. However, buying apps for our kids to use is relatively new to us. How well do you really know what the app ratings mean?

App Ratings And What They Mean For Your Kids

4+ Apps contain:

  • No objectionable material

9+ Apps contain:

  • Mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy, or realistic violence
  • Infrequent or mild mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content
  • Content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9

12+ Apps contain:

  • Infrequent mild language
  • Frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy, or realistic violence
  • Mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes
  • Simulated gambling
  • Content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12

17+ Apps contain:

  • Frequent and intense offensive language
  • Frequent and intense cartoon, fantasy, or realistic violence
  • Frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes
  • Sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
  • Content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17. You must be at least 17 years old to purchase apps rated 17+.

There is not a lot of information out there describing how apps get their rating. It appears as though the app developer is responsible for completing a form that describes their application, and then a rating is assigned based on that description. This could leave room for interpretation on the part of the developer; their idea of “infrequent” may not mesh with yours. Also, every child and every parent is unique, so what you may feel is appropriate for your little one may not necessarily coincide with the parameters set within the ratings. Your best bet: Take a tour of the app before handing it over to your child. It shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to determine whether the app contains any content inappropriate for your child.

If only Uncle Larry could be so conveniently labeled!

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