If you create apps for kids,  please take 5 minutes to read this!

If you thought you’d made your app COPPA compliant after July 1, 2013, you might be surprised to find your app rejected by Apple if you submit an update! This has happened to scores of developers of apps for kids.

Why are these updates being rejected? Because Apple released new review guidelines that take COPPA to a tighter level than what seemed required.

(On July 1, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission’s new COPPA laws came in to play. COPPA stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and industry organization, Moms with Apps (a leader in educating app developers on best practice and COPPA  compliance), wrote a number of posts about how to be COPPA compliant and launched their new, Know What’s Inside program promoting best practice.)

Essentially, app creators were COPPA compliant if they had a privacy policy on our website and had a link to that policy within their app description.

But Apple’s new review guidelines changed the goal posts! And they affect developers of apps aimed at kids:

Any links that take kids outside the app (even to the App Store), must be behind a parent gate so kids don’t go outside of the app while using the app.

This means that if you currently have live links to “More Apps,” your website or anything else that takes kids outside of the app, your app will be rejected by Apple.

Developers are handling this parent gate issue in one of three ways:

1. Removing all outside links completely
2. Changing live links to be written URLs that don’t link to anywhere
3. Putting the live links behind a parent gate

What’s a parent gate? Essentially it’s a screen or device that requires an action by the app user before they can reach the “Parents” section.  This screen/test/action can include things like answering a math problem, pressing and holding something for 2 seconds, swiping with two fingers, etc.

I’ve borrowed a couple of images from the Moms with Apps’ post on this subject to demonstrate and I urge you to read their post as it gives a good explanation of techniques developers are using.

 

FYI, here is a screen grab from the new Apple App Review Guidelines regarding Kids Apps.

NOTE 1: If your app is currently approved in the App Store, it is fine. These new rules affect new apps and updates to existing apps.

NOTE 2: there are other issues for developers who include ads in their apps. Be sure to read the article that appeared on CNET.

More reading:

 Article on COPPA Basics – (The article was originally included in a post by Roxie Munro on this topic.)

General article talking about Apple’s new guidelines that appeared in CNET.