I Agree with Kayne West: A Plea to Designers of Apps for Toddlers

My world does not cross with Kayne West’s world very often. (Read: at all). He is a famous celebrity, a rapper, record producer and fashion designer. I am your average working mom just trying to make sense of my world. With the vast differences in our experiences, it is little wonder I don’t share many of his views on things. I couldn’t begin to fathom what his life is like.

So when I heard about his tweet regarding in-app purchases on games for toddlers a few weeks ago, I, for one, could finally relate to the guy. I hope by now, he has managed to turn on the parental controls on his iPad to keep North from running up any more bills. Kim seems to know all about it so she can help him out.

But even with the in-app purchasing disabled, it is extremely frustrating for not only the parent, but also the child when they are trying to use, what is advertised as, a game for kids. Let’s take for example, my toddler’s favorite game: EduKidsRoom by Cubic Frog. Just typing that, I sang the little opening like the children in the app. I can’t help, it is the #1 thing my son likes to open when he gets his mitts on my iPad. It is one of the apps I don’t mind him using, because it shows him letters and colors. He always gets excited when yellow shows up, and cheers “Yellow” just like the kids in the game. It is marked as for ages 2 to 6, and my son is only 18 months old, so to be fair, he is using the game outside of the suggested parameters. Here is a shot of the opening screen:

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But seconds later, you get this screen:

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This ad pops up shortly after you open the app. I mean – just look at it. Of course the baby has tapped it, because he doesn’t know any better. It is bright and colorful. It’s baby click-bait!

The pause before it shows up is just long enough that your finger is already in motion to hit the “Play” button. Even I have been tricked into clicking on the pop-up ad. It opens up the company’s website on Safari, and you are no longer in the game. The baby has already learned to hit the Home button to exit out and reopen the game again, only to once again have the pop up ad redirect him. He gets frustrated and abandons it. So, to resolve the issue, I bought the full version, through the handy-dandy ads placed in the game.

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IMG_0852But even then, there are links to places baby doesn’t want to go, like a website by Cubic Frog for parents, a link to rate the app and of course a link to the App Store, so you can buy more Cubic Frogs games. It seems you are supposed to tap and hold for these items to open, but they open with a regular tap too. Not that it would matter, because toddlers don’t differentiate between tapping and holding and just tapping. The baby is drawn to tapping on these links because they are colorful buttons, and the baby is coo-coo for buttons right now. (He takes an enormous amounts of selfies, because he can’t help but press that shiny red button in the camera app.)

It seems a simple enough solution to start the game for him, so he doesn’t see the home screen, to access these links, but seeing that the only button on the iPad is the Home button, he frequently exits the game only to reopen it. With this particular app, it returns to the main screen, no matter how briefly you’ve left the app.

So now that someone like Kanye has expressed his frustration with these kid’s apps, let’s use this visibility to make a plea to app designers for toddlers: Stop the nonsense!

(I wonder if this will be part of Kanye’s platform when he runs for President in 2020?)

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