What is the app age rating? How old do you have to be to use the popular apps and games?

Age ratings are useful to help you decide what is appropriate for your child. You are probably familiar with the age ratings used for films, but apps and games are rated differently and there is lots more to consider. Some ratings give a minimum age, some use categories (such as Amazon app stores ‘guidance suggested’ category).

Have you ever been confused over the age ratings of apps and games? 

Apps stores have their own classification systems to indicate the suitability of an app, but these don’t always match up to the developer's recommendation and then there are PEGI ratings too. It's no wonder we get confused!

Remember, ratings are a guide. The most important thing is that you know your child best, you can judge what your child’s abilities are and what is suitable for them.


The different ratings / classifications that you might see:

  • The app developers rating
    A self-review by the app developer of what age they would recommend users should be to use their app.
  • Apple app store
    A rating given by Apple based on information provided by the developer on several factors including sexual content or violence.
  • Google play store
    Ratings by Google to help users identify content that isn’t suitable, based on a questionnaire filled in by the developer.
  • Amazon app store
    Amazon only accepts family friendly apps, based on developer information, and rates with categories such as parental guidance.
  • PEGI ratings
    PEGI ratings are based on details supplied by the developer on several factors including violence, sex and bad language.

Not all apps or games are independently rated, and none of the rating systems takes full account of all risks that an app or game may present, and no rating system can assess the suitability for your child’s individual needs.

The PEGI rating system used for games, including mobile gaming apps gives an age recommendation based on the content of the game. What it doesn’t consider are any communication features on the game, such as the ability to talk to or message other users.

It’s hard to push back as a parent when your child tells you that everyone else has that game, but having somewhere to go to check whether the game was designed for his age has helped me feel more confident to stand my ground and explain why it’s not right for him right now.

Parent

Helen, Local Campaign Manager

I find that parents often feel pressured by thinking that lots of other children are already doing something. During our workshops they often seem empowered to not only go and find out the age ratings but also to read the reviews and to discuss with their child the reasons why an app or game has an age rating.  Finding out about the app or game and having a go themselves can really help parents feel confident talking about staying safe online and what rules they want to agree to as a family.

How to know if an app is suitable for your child

If you’re unsure, the best way is to check the ratings for the app, read reviews from other users, and consider downloading the app or game yourself so that you can see if it is suitable for your child before they play. Look at what settings are available in the app to help keep your child safe.

Look for:

  • Content – what is posted / included and are there any controls to limit the type of content seen. Does a game have violent content.
  • Contact – who can message them, or who are they playing games with. Can you limit this in the settings.
  • In-app purchases – this can be a way of enhancing gameplay or advancing through levels. Look at the settings to turn off in-app purchases.
  • Advertising – consider if the ads that are shown suitable for your child. You can report inappropriate ads to the ASA.

Common questions we hear from parents

  • What is the age rating for Roblox?
  • How old do you have to be to have Facebook?
  • Is Tiktok safe for 10 year olds?
  • How old do you need to be to have Instagram?

To be able to answer questions like this:

  • Look at the developer terms and conditions - Instagram’s ts and cs state you must be at least 13
  • Look at the app store rating - Apple list Instagram 12+ and Google states Teen. Amazon rates as Guidance suggested.
  • Explore the app yourself to check features and settings

Even with apps and games that have an appropriate age rating for your child, you should ensure you have checked the settings for the individual app and parental controls on the device and the wifi.

Do you need more advice?

Parents and carers should have all the information they need to help keep kids safe online - but sometimes the specifics can be hard to find. That's why we've  collected everything you need to know in our online safety hub.

The information is organised by topic, to make everything easy to find. We have pages for social media, online gaming and parental controls, explaining the risks and steps you can take to help keep your kids safe online.  We also cover what parents need to know about topics such as sharing nudes, livestreaming, harmful content and reporting online safety issues

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about something a child or young person may have experienced online, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for free support and advice. Call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support