A Parent's Guide to Apps with Mature/Suggestive Themes

Mature suggestive themes
  1. How to Talk to Your Kids about Mature or Suggestive Themes in Mobile Apps
    • Starting at around the age of nine, your kids are going to start to see some mature or suggestive themes on TV, online, and even in school. At this age, these themes will generally be fairly infrequent and very mild. For an idea of appropriate levels and frequency for mature/suggestive content, think of the kinds of subjects and themes you see on prime time network television or in a PG-rated movie.
    • These programs and films recommend parental guidance, but they give you a metric for how much suggestive or mature content you can expect to see. For example, you’ll likely only see mild profanity, and you aren’t likely to see intense or frequent violence, either. That said, all children develop at slightly different rates, and what is appropriate for one child is not necessarily appropriate for another.
    • Likewise, if we’re talking about the apps your children are allowed to use, you can look them up in our directory to get a sense of the appropriate ratings of each app as well as more specific risk factors for each app.
    • Once you’ve decided whether an app is appropriate for your child or not, you could just restrict their access to it or allow them to use it. However, the best way to go about this, really, is to sit down and talk to your child about how they’re using the app and what kind of content they’re reading, watching or posting.
  2. Ask How They’re Using the App
    • First of all, you’ll notice that iTunes tends to rate its apps based on the content and images they present to users, not on the content that other users may post. For example, the Facebook app has a 4+ rating, which means that it is safe for anyone over the age of four years to use. However, as you no doubt already know, there are some groups and profiles on Facebook that regularly use profanity, depict violent or horrific content or have very mature or suggestive themes.
    • That’s why it’s so important to talk to your kids about the apps they’re using and how they’re using them. For example, if your child is using a random messaging app to send pictures and messages to their friends, they may not be at risk for being exposed to much (if any) mature/suggestive content, but that depends a great deal on your child and their friends. So, if your child is on messaging app, which allows users to send pictures and messages, you need to talk to them about who they’re interacting with and what kind of messages they’re sending and receiving.
  3. Explain Why You’re Restricting Certain Apps
    • If you decide that an app is too suggestive or mature for your child, or if the material you see posted by other users is too mature, then don’t just tell your child that they can’t use it “because I said so.” Be open and honest. Sit them down and talk to them about the concerning content you saw on the app. Tell them that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that kind of material and those kinds of images, but that they are not age appropriate at this time.
    • As you talk, encourage your child to come to you if they have any questions about mature subjects. You may even want to give them permission to use the app with the requirement that they share their activity with you, add you as a friend on the app, or come to you whenever they are uncomfortable with something they read or see on the app.
    • With tools like the SaferKid™ App Ratings, you can go a long way toward keeping your kids’ apps age appropriate. That said, the best tool you have really is communication. If you can talk to your child – at any age – about what is and isn’t appropriate and why, you’ll keep lines of communication open, and your child will be less likely to try to hide inappropriate content from you.
    • Investigate the apps your children want to download, and talk to them about the ones they’re already using. The more you know, the safer your kids will be. Make it a habit to look at their phone everyday, or at least several days a week, to see what apps they have. If you do not recognize any of them, look them up in our directory. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!