As mobile apps multiply like rabbits and the number of kids downloading and playing with them seems to keep growing, the usefulness of app ratings to parents seems to be growing too. CTIA – the mobile phone industry trade association – gets this. It recently announced an app rating system it has been working on since 2010, Investors.com reports. The system, which CTIA worked on with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board [ESRB.org], will look familiar to US parents – a real plus, I think. It categorizes apps by age: Everyone [age 6+], Everyone 10+, Teens (13+), Mature (17+), and Adults Only (18+), the Washington Post reports. CTIA’s program so far has the support of AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. But the two app marketplace giants – Apple and Google, which have their own rating systems – haven’t joined up. [The Apple App Store and Android Market have 500,000+ apps and 400,000+ apps, respectively, the Washington Post reports in a separate article.] So an industry-wide system is in limbo, according to Investors.com. Another reason besides a lack of total buy-in is that CTIA is a trade group, not a regulatory body, and the rating program is voluntary. “There are no government regulations on mobile app ratings,” the Washington Post adds. So where does this leave parents of avid app users? Not that bad a spot, especially if your kids have either an Android or an Apple phone. It boils down largely to communication and rules like “I need to know what you’re downloading – how much and what the rating is – or downloading gets turned off.”
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