Welcome to Pixalate’s CTV & 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 mobile apps available in the Google Play & Apple App Stores as well as connected TV (CTV) apps from the Roku Channel Store and Amazon Fire TV App Store using the COPPA Rule factors shown below & make those results available to the public at ratings.pixalate.com.
This post takes a look at a popular mobile app on the Google Play Store. Our reviewer discusses how the subjective factors set forth in the COPPA Rule apply to the 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).
Manually reviewed in this post
This Week’s Reviewer: Crystal Pearson
The 10 COPPA Rule factors
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.
Manual Review: Talking James Squirrel-Virtu
Likely audience after manual review
- Developer: Kaufcom Games Apps Widgets
- Bundle ID: com.kauf.talking.baum.TalkingJamesSquirrel
- Crystal's take: “Cute” subject matter incentivizes fun with animal animation appealing to children.
COPPA factors used to determine audience
Talking James Squirrel-Virtu centers on a cute talking squirrel named James Squirrel who is a “little bit crazy” according to the app store description. James responds to what the user says and to the user’s touch on the screen. Everyone would enjoy this game because you can play your favorite song and James will sing it back to you in his cute voice. James Squirrel and the various games and activities within the app would appeal both to children under 13 as well as older teens. COPPA defines “mixed audience” apps as those that target children under 13 as a portion of the audience.
The primary sound within this app is James Squirrel’s cute voice and his piano. The game also includes silly sound effects such as bonks, honks, and clangs. The sounds are an immersive experience that amuses any one, young or old because they are fun and lighthearted.
The app includes 30 different games with many levels of play. It is fun to play with James and interact. The incentive is to play as many games with James to reach the highest levels that you can.
During gameplay, there are ads that show up when you lose or restart the game. The ad that displayed in my sample play was “Ryker Motorsport,” which is geared towards adults. The majority of the ads that pop up are child-directed such as “Kiddopia,” which is a learning activities app for preschoolers. There are numerous child directed game ads that continue to show throughout the game.
Talking James Squirrel-Virtu app has the content rating of E for everyone. There is evidence of a mixed audience composition based on some of the reviews that suggest that children use the app. One review from May of 2021 said “...daughter loves this app so much.” The second review from July of 2021 said “.... great game to play with my nephew and niece.” The third review from May of 2020 said “ …it was my childhood game.” Another review from August 2019 says, “It has different games, so everyone has a favorite one. It’s fun for [the] whole family.”
Screenshots of Talking James Squirrel:
About Pixalate’s Trust & Safety Advisory Board
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.