- What made you start the kidSAFE® seal of approval?
Simply put, to create a safer web and mobile technology experience for children around the world. I had been in the seal business for many years and felt there was no dominantly-recognized symbol that parents could trust. This was in part due to the lack of focus on safety related matters. The kidSAFE® badge changed all of this.
- Why is it important for developers to be kidSAFE® approved?
Because our seal helps suppress the fears of parents and avoid negative media publicity, which could derail a business overnight. Display of the kidSAFE® logo also offers developers a competitive advantage and a welcome marketing boost. Most important, it’s the right thing to do.
- What do you believe is the mark of a good application?
An application that can successfully balance the need to offer a great user experience while adhering to legal and best practice expectations. This is a difficult balance to achieve.
- Monetizing the kids app store is a controversial topic. Enticing kids to pay for apps is often deemed unacceptable but developers need to make a living. What do you believe the best balance is? What examples of 'good practice' would you suggest?
The best guidance I can give is to be upfront and transparent about your practices. Don’t trick kids or parents into buying more or into other sneaky practices. At the end of the day, if you build a great user experience, kids will come back for more and your business will grow.
- Apps for preschoolers is sometimes a controversial topic, many parents believe their child is better off playing outside than playing on a tablet. As experts in the tech and kids field, what's your opinion?
I’ll answer this question as a father of five tech-playful children, including two preschoolers. Never should tablets be a substitute for outdoor or real world play. At the same time, we live in a society where technology surrounds our every movement. So I think we must also embrace this and focus on teaching our kids (and ourselves) about responsible and manageable use of technology.
- How did you go about forming the team of advisors for kidSAFE®?
This was one of the very first things I did when I started kidSAFE®, in part because I needed to build more credibility. I did it slowly and methodically, selecting highly-regarded professionals in the industry who offered expertise I did not have. I went out and sought an expert on safety education (Marian Merritt from Norton/Symantec), an expert on global safety issues (Anne Collier from ConnectSafely.org who works with Facebook, Google, and other tech giants), a mobile expert (Martine Niejadlik from Coinbase), and a business expert (Ken Leonard, who previously founded ScanAlert/HACKER SAFE).
- How has your background as a Privacy Advisor helped inform your decisions in creating kidSAFE®?
It has helped me in the sense that I’ve been able to guide my clients on other privacy-related issues, not just kids’ privacy issues. This expertise can be important if your client needs to balance competing compliance obligations.
- What do you think kids stand to gain from app-based learning that perhaps traditional learning structures can't provide?
With app-based learning, kids can gain a level of interactivity and personalized learning that is harder to provide without technology. But also an element of fun, which you don’t typically find in traditional learning settings. My kids don’t usually ask if they can go to school every morning, but they do ask if they can play on the iPad.
- kidSAFE® is a great program that is definitely helping make the digital world a safer place for kids, but what kind of advice can you give parents when they are vetting products and technologies that kidSAFE® hasn't reviewed yet?
I would tell them to ask the developer or publisher why they don’t have the seal yet, and in this way become advocates for kidSAFE®. This type of word of mouth marketing has helped us grow our membership to impressive numbers today. There really is no excuse not to have the seal.
- How does kidSAFE® build upon and go beyond the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)?
kidSAFE® is first and foremost a safety-focused seal of approval program. We feel parents care more about their children’s online safety (i.e., protection from cyber dangers, inappropriate content, etc.) than those things that COPPA is concerned with. For this reason, we feel that every developer that earns our seal must meet our unique set of safety standards. These standards cover interactive functionalities (like chat and community features), parental controls, content, and advertising and marketing practices. To earn our premium kidSAFE® + COPPA certification, developers not only must be compliant with COPPA, but they must also satisfy our mandatory safety guidelines. This is a very high bar.
- You've spent quite a bit of time reviewing our apps here at Lipa. What are some of your favourite aspect of Lipa Learning games?
We’ve reviewed many apps, but what stood out most about the Lipa Learning Games were their aesthetics and ease of use.
- Do you think the Lipa Learning approach to education benefits children in ways that perhaps more traditional learning structures don't?
I echo my comments about this above, with the added belief that Lipa Learning appears to be making great strides with its unique Lipa Tree approach. I wish Lipa continued success. I also cannot thank you enough for being our partner in helping protect children online.
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