Families and COPPA

Google Play offers a rich platform for developers to showcase trusted, high-quality and age appropriate content for the whole family. Before submitting an app to the Designed for Families program, ensure your app is appropriate for children and compliant with COPPA and other relevant laws.

Designed for Families

If you've built great apps designed for kids and/or families - participating in the Designed for Families program on Google Play is a great way to surface your apps to the right users. Read this section to better understand policies and program requirements to take part in the Designed for Families program. For more information on the process of opting into the program, click here.

Before you opt-in, your app must meet all the Designed for Families program requirements, Google Play Developer Program Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement, including the Designed for Families DDA Addendum.

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Program Requirements

Eligibility

All apps participating in the Designed for Families program must be relevant for children under the age of 13 and comply with the eligibility criteria below. Google Play reserves the right to reject or remove any app determined to be inappropriate for the Designed for Families program.

Eligibility Criteria
  1. Apps must be rated as ESRB Everyone or Everyone 10+, or equivalent.
  2. If your Designed for Families app displays ads, you confirm that:
    1. 2.1 You comply with applicable legal obligations relating to advertising to children.
    2. 2.2 Ads displayed to child audiences do not involve interest-based advertising or remarketing.
    3. 2.3 Ads displayed to child audiences present content that is appropriate for children.
    4. 2.4 Ads displayed to child audiences follow the Designed for Families ad format requirements.
  3. You must accurately disclose the app's interactive elements on the content rating questionnaire, including:
    1. 3.1 Users can interact or exchange information
    2. 3.2 Shares user-provided personal information with third parties
    3. 3.3 Shares the user's physical location with other users
  4. Apps that target child audiences may not use Google sign-in or Google Play Game Services as the login experience for their app. Apps that target both children and older audiences (mixed audience), can use Google sign-in or Google Play Game Services as an optional feature.
  5. If your app targets child audiences and uses the Android Speech API, your app's RecognizerIntent.EXTRA_CALLING_PACKAGE must be set to its PackageName.
  6. You must add a link to your app's privacy policy on your app's store listing page.
  7. You represent that apps submitted to Designed for Families are compliant with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule) and other relevant statutes, including any APIs that your app uses to provide the service.
  8. If your app uses Augmented Reality, you must include a safety warning upon launch of the app that contains the following:
    1. 8.1 An appropriate message about the importance of parental supervision
    2. 8.2 A reminder to be aware of physical hazards in the real world (e.g., be aware of your surroundings)
  9. Daydream apps are not eligible to participate in the Designed for Families program.

Apps accepted to the Designed for Families program need to stay compliant with the program's eligibility requirements at all times.

Here are some examples of common violations:

  • General utility/productivity apps that are not marketed towards a child audience (e.g., calculator, ringtones, flashlight, apps intended for parents).
  • Apps that glamorize the use of alcohol or tobacco in a non-educational manner.
  • Apps that include simulated gambling.
  • Apps that include violent and graphic content not appropriate for children.
  • Apps that provide dating services or offer sexual or marital advice.

Age Groups

Primarily Child-Directed Apps
Here are the age groups available for apps primarily directed to children in the Designed for Families program:

  • Ages 5 & Under
  • Ages 6-8
  • Ages 9-12

Apps declared as primarily child-directed may not choose Mixed Audience as an age group.

When you opt-in, select an age group based on your app's primary target audience. If you include an age group in your app's title or description, this is considered your app's primary age target during review.You should only select two age groups if you've designed your app for users in both age groups. Your app's content needs to be appropriate for children in each age group. For example: Apps designed for babies, toddlers, and preschool children should only select “Ages 5 & Under.” If your app is designed for a specific grade level, choose the age range the best represents the grade.

Mixed Audience

If your app is designed for both children under the age of 13 as well as teens or adults, you must select the mixed audience category. Mixed audience apps will display a family star badge that indicates they're family-friendly, without specifying an age group.

If your app is not designed for audiences that include children under the age of 13, it won't be accepted into the Designed for Families program. For example: Calculator apps, maps, wallpapers, recipe books, and games that aren't specifically designed for children shouldn't be opted-in to the program.

Updates to Age

After you've been accepted to the Designed for Families program, if you need to update your app's age group, you can update your information using the Play Console.

We strongly recommend you let your existing users know if you change the target age level of your app or start using ads or in-app purchases using the "What's New" section of your app's store listing page.

Categories

When you opt-in to the Designed for Families program, you can choose a category. Your app will also be available on Google Play in the general app category you select on your app's store listing page.

Here are the categories available for Designed for Families:

Action & Adventure: Action-oriented apps/games, including everything from racing games, fairy tale adventures, and more.

Brain Games: Games that make the user think, including puzzles, matching games, and similar games.

Creativity: Apps and games that spur creativity, including drawing, painting, coding, and other games where you can build things.

Education: Apps and games that are primarily education-focused, including math, science, learning the alphabet, learning to count, geography, history, and other types of educational content.

Music and Video: Apps and games with a musical element or video component, including everything from playing the piano to watching videos and more.

Pretend Play: Apps and games where the user can pretend to take on a role, like pretending to be a cook or a doctor.

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Ads & Monetization

All apps participating in the Designed for Families program must comply with the following policy and quality requirements for ads as well as Play's general policy guidelines and practices. This policy applies to any advertising or commercial content (such as paid product placement or offers to make in-app purchases) served to the user for the benefit of a sponsor. Additionally, advertising and commercial content must comply with applicable laws and regulations (including any relevant self-regulatory or industry guidelines).

Ad format requirements

Ads in apps participating in Designed for Families must not have deceptive content or be designed in a way that will result in inadvertent clicks from child users. For example:

  • Ad walls must not be used
  • Interstitial ads must not display immediately upon app launch
  • A maximum of one ad placement per page
  • Ads must be clearly distinguishable from app content

Here are some examples of common violations:


  • Ad that moves away from your finger as you try to close it
  • More than one ad placement per page.
  • Ad that takes up the majority or the entire screen without providing the user a clear way to dismiss it, as depicted in the example below:



  • Banner ad showing multiple offers in one placement:



  • Ads that could be mistaken by the user for app content:



  • Note: Developers are allowed to promote their other Play store listings with buttons or ads that are distinguishable from app content:


Ad targeting and data collection

Ads displayed to child audiences must comply with laws relating to advertising to kids. For example, your app must disable interest-based advertising and remarketing, and should comply with child relevant regulations and industry standards for all countries where the app is distributed.

Appropriate ad content

Apps that participate in the Designed for Families program must present ad content that is appropriate for children.

The following are examples of ads not allowed in the Designed for Families program. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Media Content: Ads for TV shows, movies, music albums, or any other media outlet not appropriate for children.
  • Video Games & Downloadable Software: Ads for downloadable software and electronic video games that are not appropriate for children.
  • Controlled or Uncontrolled Substances: Ads for alcohol, tobacco, controlled or uncontrolled substances.
  • Gambling: Ads for simulated gambling, contests or sweepstakes promotions, even if free to enter.
  • Adult and Sexually Suggestive Content: Ads with sexual and mature content.
  • Dating or Relationships: Ads for dating sites:

  • Violent Content: Ads with violent and graphic content not appropriate for children.

Ad networks
To find out if your ad network is compliant with Designed for Families ads policies, contact your ad network to ask them about their content policies and advertising practices.

If you use AdMob, refer to the AdMob Help Center for more details on their products.

It is your responsibility to ensure your app's overall experience with in-app advertising meets the Designed for Families program requirements.

Using ads
Apps and games in the Designed for Families program can have ads as long as they follow the ads policy for Designed for Families. Before opting-in, make sure to review the ads policy to make sure your app comply with all requirements.

In-app purchases & other commercial content
There are no specific restrictions relating to in-app purchases (IAP) in apps participating in the Designed for Families program.

Google Play reserves the right to reject apps for overly aggressive commercial tactics. Google Play will enforce IAP password protection on all apps participating in the Designed for Families program that primarily target child audiences to ensure that parents, not children, are approving purchases.

Note: This treatment does not extend to apps targeting mixed audiences.

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Authentication

As stated in the Eligibility Requirements, apps that target primarily child audiences may not use Google sign-in or Google Play Game Services as the login experience for their app.

Apps that target both children and older audiences (mixed audience), can use Google sign-in or Google Play Games Services as an optional feature. In these cases, users must be able to access the app or game in its entirety without signing into Google or Google Play Games Services.

Google Play for Education users

If your app is part of the Google Play for Education program and has Google sign-in so that students can use their school accounts, your app can use Google sign-in as long as it isn't a blocking requirement for all app users.

Google Play Games Services

If your app appeals to a mixed audience, and you wish to provide a sign-in option in your game, follow section 1.1.2 of this checklist.

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COPPA Compliance and Child-Directed Apps

Understanding the nuances of integrating Google services and being COPPA compliant is important when distributing child-directed apps. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, applies to websites, apps, and services directed to children under the age of 13 and general audience apps, websites, or services with users known to be under the age of 13.

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About child-directed apps

If your app is child-directed, you'll find information about integrating Google services below. There are two types of child-directed apps:

  • Apps that are directed primarily to children
  • Apps that have a mixed audience (meaning they don’t target children as their primary audience)

You can find more information about the differences between mixed audience apps and apps directed primarily to children on the FTC’s website.

Note: While child-directed apps may use some Google services, developers are responsible for using these services according to their obligations under the law. Please review the FTC’s guidance on COPPA and consult with your own legal counsel.

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Primarily Child-Directed Declaration

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How to integrate with Google services

Select a Google service below to learn how to integrate it in child-directed apps.

Google Mobile Ads

If you're using Google's mobile advertising services, you must indicate that you want Google to treat ad requests from your app as child-directed, as applicable.

If you tag the ad requests from your app for child-directed treatment, we will take steps to disable interest-based advertising and remarketing ads for such requests.

To learn how to correctly set up your ads, visit the following resources:

Google sign-in or Google Play Games Services

If your app is directed primarily to children, it should not use Google sign-in or Google Play Game Services.

Apps that are mixed audience shouldn't require Google sign-in or Google Play Game Services but can offer these as optional features. In these cases, users must be able to access the app or game in its entirety without signing into Google or Google Play Game Services.

If your app appeals to a mixed audience and you use Google Play Games Services, follow section 1.1 of this checklist.

Android Speech API

Child-directed apps shouldn't use the Android Speech API if they don't participate in the Designed for Families program. Apps in the Designed for Families program should follow these instructions when using the Android Speech API:

RecognizerIntent.EXTRA_CALLING_PACKAGE must be set to its PackageName.

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Related content

If you've built great apps designed for kids and/or families, consider participating in the Designed for Families program on Google Play to surface your app to parents.

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