Dating Apps must Not Risk Child Safety
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The more your teen explores the realm of romance online, they may experience unwelcome advances, sexually explicit pictures and general harassment via social media, chat forums and sites, dating apps or messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.
The use of technology as a tool for enriching families' lives continues to grow, and parents are looking for safe, high-quality content to share with their children. You may be designing your apps specifically for children or your app may just attract their attention. Google Play wants to help you make sure your app is safe for all users, including families.
The word \"children\" can mean different things in different locales and in different contexts. It is important that you consult with your legal counsel to help determine what obligations and/or age-based restrictions may apply to your app. You know best how your app works so we are relying on you to help us make sure apps on Google Play are safe for families.
In the Target Audience and Content section of the Google Play Console you must indicate the target audience for your app, prior to publishing, by selecting from the list of age groups provided. Regardless of what you identify in the Google Play Console, if you choose to include imagery and terminology in your app that could be considered targeting children, this may impact Google Play's assessment of your declared target audience. Google Play reserves the right to conduct its own review of the app information that you provide to determine whether the target audience that you disclose is accurate.
You should only select more than one age group for your app's target audience if you have designed your app for and ensured that your app is appropriate for users within the selected age group(s). For example, apps designed for babies, toddlers, and preschool children should only have the age group \"Ages 5 & Under\" selected as the age group target for those apps. If your app is designed for a specific level of school, choose the age group that best represents that school level. You should only select age groups that include both adults and children if you truly have designed your app for all ages.
The policies below apply to all monetization and advertising in your app, including ads, cross-promotions (for your apps and third party apps), offers for in-app purchases, or any other commercial content (such as paid product placement). All monetization and advertising in these apps must comply with all applicable laws and regulations (including any relevant self-regulatory or industry guidelines).
Google Play will re-authenticate all users prior to any in-app purchases in apps solely targeted to children. This measure is to help ensure that the financially responsible party, and not children, are approving purchases.
If you serve ads in your app and your target audience only includes children, then you must use only Families Self-Certified Ads SDKs. If the target audience for your app includes both children and older users, you must implement age screening measures, such as a neutral age screen, and make sure that ads shown to children come exclusively from Google Play self-certified ads SDKs.
Risks & Benefits. Cell phones can help parents stay connected to their children, checking on whereabouts through phone calls, texts, and friend locator apps. Remember that people outside the family can use these location devices, too. Teach your children to not share their location settings with various apps and people, and not to post their cell phone numbers.
Wandering Risk. Children with autism and communication disorders are at increased risk of \"elopement\" or wandering, leaving their homes and other safe environments without their families realizing it. A study in Pediatrics estimated that half of children with autism over age 4 had gone missing at least once. Many were attracted to water, highways or railroads, putting them at risk of drowning or traffic injuries. Children with communication issues may not respond when called by name, and may not know their way home.
Have a Plan. Many law enforcement agencies encourage families to visit the station and introduce their children, providing identifying information to keep on file in case the child wanders. Talk with your child's pediatrician about creating a family wandering emergency plan. Your pediatrician can give you additional strategies that may be helpful in increasing your child's safety, as well as information about local resources.
Apps with user-generated content present particular challenges, ranging from intellectual property infringement to anonymous bullying. To prevent abuse, apps with user-generated content or social networking services must include:
The Kids Category is a great way for people to easily find apps that are designed for children. If you want to participate in the Kids Category, you should focus on creating a great experience specifically for younger users. These apps must not include links out of the app, purchasing opportunities, or other distractions to kids unless reserved for a designated area behind a parental gate. Keep in mind that once customers expect your app to follow the Kids Category requirements, it will need to continue to meet these guidelines in subsequent updates, even if you decide to deselect the category. Learn more about parental gates.
You must comply with applicable privacy laws around the world relating to the collection of data from children online. Be sure to review the Privacy section of these guidelines for more information. In addition, Kids Category apps may not send personally identifiable information or device information to third parties. Apps in the Kids Category should not include third-party analytics or third-party advertising. This provides a safer experience for kids. In limited cases, third-party analytics may be permitted provided that the services do not collect or transmit the IDFA or any identifiable information about children (such as name, date of birth, email address), their location, or their devices. This includes any device, network, or other information that could be used directly or combined with other information to identify users and their devices. Third-party contextual advertising may also be permitted in limited cases provided that the services have publicly documented practices and policies for Kids Category apps that include human review of ad creatives for age appropriateness.
The primary goal of COPPA is to place parents in control over what information is collected from their young children online. The Rule was designed to protect children under age 13, while accounting for the dynamic nature of the Internet. The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps and IoT devices, such as smart toys) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, or on whose behalf such information is collected or maintained (such as when personal information is collected by an ad network to serve targeted advertising). The Rule also applies to operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13, and to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children. Operators covered by the Rule must:
The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps and IoT devices) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children. It also applies to operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. The Rule also applies to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children.
The Rule does not require you to inform third parties of the child-directed nature of your site or service, and doing so, without more, will not relieve you of your obligations under COPPA. Remember, you are responsible for the collection of personal information from your users, no matter who is doing the collection; therefore, you will need to do more than simply identify yourself to third parties. As a child-directed property, absent an exception under the Rule (see FAQ I.2 below), you must: (1) not collect or allow any other entity to collect personal information from your visitors; or (2) provide notice and obtain prior parental consent before collecting or allowing any entity to collect personal information from your visitors, as well as provide all of the other COPPA protections. In addition, Commission staff recommends that operators of child-directed websites or services signal their status to third parties and you may arrange with the third party collecting the personal information to provide adequate COPPA protections. 153554b96e