A friend of ours had her daughter download an iPhone App on her iPod touch. The app is called Simsimi and it pretty much has a chat system where you can ask the app questions.
My friend was startled when she saw that the app was making racists comments when they asked the app about a certain nationality.
I went ahead and downloaded the App and it had the age requirement dialog box that people quickly click without reading (I tend to do the same when I am in a hurry).
Always Read the Disclaimer on Your Kids Apps
The warning explained how the application had user-generated content of users all over the world. Apparently the developers of the app are based in Korea and they do as much as possible to keep inappropriate content of their app (removing all negative content in various languages can become an impossible task.)
Imagine a few folks trying to control the content created by an app that clearly has gone global. I can’t imagine how many users have probably downloaded the app. The apps functionality, which is not useful to me, ends up being in the wrong hands and with people who don’t have much to do but feed the app inappropriate content.
What is a User Generated Content Application?
A user generated content application or website is one that depends heavily on what users input into the system. For this application to grow and survive, the most critical part is what created, shared, and published by its users. (This is my definition).
A good example is Facebook and other social platforms where its users create the majority of the content. We already know Facebook requires children to at least be 13 years old before they register.
One of the key factors for that age restriction is the that the User Generated content created might not be appropriate for children. We can pretty much say that the fact that the millions of users control the content makes it extremely difficult for Facebook to have safeguards in place to ensure the quality and safety of the content being published is appropriate for all users.
Moving on to the mobile apps. There are plenty of mobile apps that connect to a large database of content where users publish content freely and with very little moderation.
If the moderation is up to the users, you can rest assure that many things will be left on these platforms that might not be attractive for younger readers to consume.
How do you control what applications your children use on their devices?
What age would you consider appropriate for giving them freedom into using these apps?