Welcome to Pixalate’s Mobile App Manual Reviews According to COPPA, a series containing the detailed factors the Trust & Safety Advisory Board educators used to assess an app’s child-directedness.
The educators manually review thousands of apps available in the Google Play & Apple App Stores using the COPPA Rule factors shown below & make those results available to the public at ratings.pixalate.com.
This post takes a look at two popular (1 million+ downloads each) mobile apps from the Google Play Store. Our reviewer discusses how the subjective factors set forth in the COPPA Rule apply to each app and factor into the reviewer's determination as to whether the app is child-directed or general audience (i.e., it is not targeting children).
The teacher will indicate the factors they relied upon in their assessment using the 10 factors shown below that reflect the 10 child-directed factors in the COPPA Rule.
The gameplay screenshots for Surprise Eggs have visual content and subject matter that includes computer-animated images of young girl ballerinas, fairies, and other images that would likely appeal to children. The description in the “about this game” section of the Play Store includes phrases such as “best application for entertaining small children.”
Additionally, music during game play is very childlike (xylophone sounds) and happy-toned sounds play when candy is unwrapped to reveal a prize (the objective of this game).
Children would enjoy the main incentive of the game which is to find out what is hidden inside the eggs. The interactive surprises inside of the eggs are princesses and other cartoon and movie characters.
During gameplay, ads sit at the bottom bar of the game. The ad that displayed in my sample play was from SAE International; however, after a minute into the game, in order to unlock a reward, a 30 second video ad from ABC Mouse (a learning app for children) played.
Screenshot of Surprise Eggs:
In my opinion, My Bakery Empire: Cake & Bake is child directed as it contains elements that appeal to a mixed aged audience (meaning the app is targeting children under 13 as a portion of the audience). The subject matter of the game, cake design and sales, could appeal to both children and adults.
The visual content in the game is another factor that led me to conclude that this app is child directed. The entire game is painted in bright colors, mostly pinks and purples. Additionally with the cake designs, many of the colors are ombré rainbows with glitter and the design elements include stuffed animals and princesses. Several of the characters are young girls wearing shirts with sayings like “skateboard girl.” These visual content elements appeal to children.
After completing a level of gameplay in this app, an ad from Macy’s popped up to cover the game screen. The advertisement for the Macy’s app showed four toys that would appeal to children including a Cocomelon toy laptop, unicorn headphones, a Sonic the Hedgehog plush toy, and a “Kids Spiderman Digital Watch.”
Screenshot of My Bakery Empire: Cake & Bake:
Pixalate’s Trust and Safety Advisory Board was created to bring in individuals with experience using child-directed apps in the classroom to review and assess which apps are child-directed. This manual review process serves to quality check Pixalate’s automated review process. See our full methodology for more information.
This blog post published by Pixalate is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice. By viewing this blog post, the reader understands and agrees that there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction(s), and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning any specific situation. The content of this blog post reflects Pixalate's opinions with respect to factors that Pixalate believes may be useful to the digital media industry. Pixalate's opinions are just that, opinions, which means that they are neither facts nor guarantees; and this blog post is not intended to impugn the standing or reputation of any entity, person or app, but instead, to report findings pertaining to mobile and Connected TV (CTV) apps.
Disclaimer: The content of this page reflects Pixalate’s opinions with respect to the factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any proprietary data shared is grounded in Pixalate’s proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. Any references to outside sources should not be construed as endorsements. Pixalate’s opinions are just that - opinion, not facts or guarantees.
Per the MRC, “'Fraud' is not intended to represent fraud as defined in various laws, statutes and ordinances or as conventionally used in U.S. Court or other legal proceedings, but rather a custom definition strictly for advertising measurement purposes. Also per the MRC, “‘Invalid Traffic’ is defined generally as traffic that does not meet certain ad serving quality or completeness criteria, or otherwise does not represent legitimate ad traffic that should be included in measurement counts. Among the reasons why ad traffic may be deemed invalid is it is a result of non-human traffic (spiders, bots, etc.), or activity designed to produce fraudulent traffic.”