A Parent's Guide to Apps with Realistic Violence

Realistic violence
  1. When Should Kids See Realistic Violence in Mobile Apps?
    • Not all violence is created equal. When you look at the rating systems for mobile apps, you’ll notice that there are actually three types of violence mentioned to help determine whether an app is appropriate for children of a certain age:
      • Cartoon or fantasy violence
      • Realistic violence
      • Prolonged graphic or sadistic realistic violence
    • For an app to safe for a 4-year-old, it must have no offensive material at all. This protects young children against exposure to any kind of violence or other mature content. However, usually by age 9, cartoon violence and a small amount of realistic violence are usually OK. If the violence becomes too frequent or too intense, though, it needs to be withheld until the child is order, perhaps 12 or even 17. If the app has prolonged graphic or sadistic realistic violence, it should never be used by minors.
    • Because there is such a wide-range of content, you should look up apps in our free app directory before your children install them. Because we monitor over 1.1 million apps and over 200,000 that are inappropriate at various ages, we can easily help you with what your kids are looking at.
    • As children get older, especially teenagers, you may let them make their own install choices first, but you should still look at their apps everyday so that you understand what they are being exposed to. If you don't recognize an app, you can look it up here. This way, if they have apps that are inappropriate for their age, you can remove them and also talk to them about them.
  2. When Are Children Exposed to Realistic Violence?
    • In most cases, you can assume that your child has begun to get some exposure to realistic violence in school, on TV, and on the Internet by about age nine. At this age, however, violent images and videos should be kept to a minimum. Your child is still developing psychologically, and too much violent content can still be damaging, especially if it is prolonged or sadistic.
    • For example, you might allow your child to download an app that lets the player shoot zombies in the head to gain points and “survive” each level. However, a game that involves a great deal of blood and gore or that involves a lot of very realistic violence that takes place over a prolonged period of time won’t be appropriate for them.
  3. Talking to Your Kids about Realistic Violence in Mobile Apps
    • Even if you do not allow your children to download and use apps with realistic violence in them, you should prepare yourself to talk to your children about violence and how violent images affect them. As they get old enough to start watching the news or to read news sites, they’re going to be exposed to real-life violence, and they’re going to have questions for you.
    • The best way to approach a discussion on realistic violence – whether it’s portrayed in an app, on a website, on the news, etc. – is to first make sure that your child feels safe and secure. Ask them how they feel about the images they’ve seen and what questions those images bring up for them. Talk to them about how even realistic images and videos of violence in apps are not actually real and that they shouldn’t see violence as an answer to real-life situations.
    • If you are uncertain as to whether or not a game or app with realistic violence is appropriate for your child, you can get a better idea by reading reviews and looking it up on SaferKid.com. Then, if you think that the app is safe for your child to use, you should still talk to them about why they want to download it and what the images they see in the app mean to them.
    • And remember, it’s okay to restrict your child from using an app that shows realistic violence, even if they are technically old enough to use the app according to iTunes’ standards. Children develop at different rates, and some children are not equipped to handle realistic violence as young as others. Likewise, some parents simply do not want their children to play violent games or use apps with a higher risk of violence. With tools like the iTunes rating system, SaferKid, and your own judgment, you can make the right call for your kids.