Designing Apps for Children and Families

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.

Apps designed specifically for children must participate in the Designed for Families program. However, if your app targets children as only one of its audiences, participating in the Designed for Families program is still a great way to surface your app to the right users. If you decide not to participate in the Designed for Families program, you still must comply with the Google Play Families Policy requirements below, as well as all other Google Play Developer Program Policies and the Developer Distribution Agreement.


  • expand_more Play Console Requirements

    Target Audience and Content

    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.

    If you select a target audience that only includes adults, but Google determines that this is inaccurate because your app is targeting both children and adults, you will have the option to make clear to users that your app is not targeting children by agreeing to carry a warning label.

    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.

    Updates to Target Audience and Content Section

    You can always update your app's information in the Target Audience and Content section in the Google Play Console. An app update is required before this information will be reflected on the Google Play store. However, any changes you make in this section of the Google Play Console may be reviewed for policy compliance even before an app update is submitted.

    We strongly recommend that you let your existing users know if you change the target age group for your app or start using ads or in-app purchases, either by using the "What's New" section of your app's store listing page or through in-app notifications.

    Misrepresentation in Play Console

    Misrepresentation of any information about your app in the Play Console, including in the Target Audience and Content section, may result in removal or suspension of your app, so it is important to provide accurate information.

  • expand_more Families Policy Requirements

    If one of the target audiences for your app is children, you must comply with the following requirements. Failure to satisfy these requirements may result in app removal or suspension.

    1. App content: Your app's content that is accessible to children must be appropriate for children.
    2. Google Play Console Answers: You must accurately answer the questions in the Google Play Console regarding your app and update those answers to accurately reflect any changes to your app.
    3. Ads: If your app displays ads to children or to users of unknown age, you must:
      • only use Google Play certified ad networks to display ads to those users;
      • ensure ads displayed to those users do not involve interest-based advertising or remarketing;
      • ensure ads displayed to those users present content that is appropriate for children;
      • ensure ads displayed to those users follow the Families ad format requirements; and
      • ensure compliance with all applicable legal regulations and industry standards relating to advertising to children.
    4. Data Collection: You must disclose the collection of any personal information from children in your app, including through APIs and SDKs called or used in your app.
    5. APIs and SDKs: You must ensure that your app properly implements any APIs and SDKs.
      • Apps that solely target children must not contain any APIs or SDKs that are not approved for use in child-directed services. This includes, Google Sign-In (or any other Google API Service that accesses data associated with a Google Account), Google Play Games Services, and any other API Service using OAuth technology for authentication and authorization.
      • Apps that target both children and older audiences should not implement APIs or SDKs that are not approved for use in child-directed services unless they are used behind a neutral age screen or implemented in a way that does not result in the collection of data from children (e.g., providing Google Sign-in as an optional feature). Note that all users must be able to access your app and a reasonable amount of its functionality.
    6. Privacy policy: You must provide a link to your app's privacy policy on your app's store listing page. This link must be maintained at all times while the app is available on the Store, and it must link to a privacy policy that, among other things, accurately describes your app's data collection and use.
    7. Special restrictions:
      • If your app uses Augmented Reality, you must include a safety warning immediately upon launch of the AR section. The warning should contain the following:
        • An appropriate message about the importance of parental supervision.
        • A reminder to be aware of physical hazards in the real world (e.g., be aware of your surroundings).
      • Your app must not require the usage of a device that is advised not to be used by children. (e.g. Daydream, Oculus)
    8. Legal Compliance: You must ensure that your app, including any APIs or SDKs that your app calls or uses, is compliant with the U.S. Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and any other applicable laws or regulations.

    Here are some examples of common violations:

    • Apps that promote play for children in their store-listing but the app content is only appropriate for adults.
    • Apps that implement APIs that have terms of service that prohibit their use in child-directed apps.
    • Apps that glamorize the use of alcohol, tobacco or controlled substances.
    • Apps that include real or simulated gambling.
    • Apps that include violence, gore, or shocking content not appropriate for children.
    • Apps that provide dating services or offer sexual or marital advice.
    • Apps that show mature ads to children.
  • expand_more Designed for Families Program

    Apps designed specifically for children must participate in the Designed for Families program. If your app is designed for everyone, including children and families, you too can apply to participate in the program.

    Before being accepted into the program your app must meet all of the Families Policy requirements and Designed for Families eligibility requirements, in addition to those outlined in the Google Play Developer Program Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement.

    For more information on the process for submitting your app for inclusion in the program, click here.

    Program Eligibility

    All apps participating in the Designed for Families program must have both app and ad content that are relevant and appropriate for children and must satisfy all of the requirements below. Apps accepted into the Designed for Families program must remain compliant with all program requirements. Google Play reserves the right in its sole discretion to reject or remove any app determined to be inappropriate for the Designed for Families program.

    Designed for Families Requirements

    1. Apps must be rated ESRB Everyone or Everyone 10+, or equivalent.
    2. You must accurately disclose the app's interactive elements on the Content Rating Questionnaire in the Google Play Console, including whether:
      • users can interact or exchange information;
      • your app shares user-provided personal information with third parties; and
      • your app shares the user's physical location with other users.
    3. If your app uses the Android Speech API, your app's RecognizerIntent.EXTRA_CALLING_PACKAGE must be set to its PackageName.
    4. Apps must only use Google Play's certified ad networks.
    5. Apps designed specifically for children cannot request location permissions.

    Here are some examples of common apps that are ineligible for the program:

    • Apps that are rated ESRB Everyone but contain ads for gambling content
    • Apps for parents or care-givers (e.g., breastfeeding tracker, developmental guide)
    • Parent guides or device management apps that are only intended for use by parents or care-givers

    Categories

    If you are accepted to participate in the Designed for Families program, you can choose a second Families-specific category that describes your app. Here are the categories available for apps participating in the Designed for Families program:

    Action & Adventure: Action-oriented apps/games, including everything from simplistic racing games to fairy tale adventures, to other apps and games that are designed to generate excitement.

    Brain Games: Games that make the user think, including puzzles, matching games, quizzes, and other games that challenge the memory, intelligence or logic.

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

    Education: Apps and games designed with input from learning experts (e.g., educators, learning specialists, researchers) to promote learning, including academic, social-emotional, physical, and creative learning, as well as learning related to basic life skills, critical thinking, and problem solving.

    Music and Video: Apps and games with a musical or video component, including everything from instrument simulation apps to apps that provide video and musical audio content.

    Pretend Play: Apps and games where the user can pretend to take on a role, for example, pretending to be a chef, care-giver, prince/princess, firefighter, police person or fictional character.

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