Morality in Media (now calling itself The National Center on Sexual Exploitation), Utah State Senator Todd Weiler, Protect Young Eyes, child advocate Melissa McKay, and other organizations, are calling for an official censor to oversee age ratings for
apps. The groups claim that the present system of self rating by developers is often misleading, inconsistent across platforms, and does not appropriately warn parents of the potential dangers found in apps. Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director at the
National Center on Sexual Exploitation said:
Parents are empowered with rating information to keep kids out of R-rated films, but when it comes to apps, parents are left in the dark about the kind of content their
children are accessing. Apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and GroupMe need to be more transparent with families about the risks associated with their platforms, particularly regarding grooming for child sexual abuse and sex trafficking.
The moralists are calling for the following:
- The creation of an independent app ratings board. This board would have powers similar to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and MPAA for movies, which use a rating system that is clearly understood, enforced, trustworthy, and exists to
protect the innocence of minors.
- The release of intuitive parental controls on iOS, Android, and Chrome operating systems. These controls should at a minimum include default settings based on a child's age, easy set-up, and one-touch screen time
controls (e.g., school and bedtime selective app shut-off).
Supporters believe that if these two steps are done properly, parents would have what they need to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of the digital places where their kids spend time.