Talking Angela App – What Parents need to know
‘Talking Angela’, one of the last year’s most popular talking apps for ‘children and adults’ has caused some widespread concern amongst parents when a Facebook hoax connected the app with paedophile rings. The app developers Outfit 7 have stated the Facebook-fuelled claims ‘ridiculous’
Now as a parent in this ever-changing digital Smartphone app world we now live in you may want to investigate this a bit further.
If you are not familiar with ‘Talking Angela’ she is part of the Talking Tom and Friends series. With over 65 million downloads, basically it’s a smartphone app where children can play with an animated ‘talking’ virtual cat. Users can customise her appearance, get her to repeat words and take part in Angela’s quiz. So it’s easy to see why kids love this. Maybe it’s just me but the aesthetics and context of the slightly flirty feline who scarcely resembles your common kitten, appealing to children and adults is a little bit uncomfortable.
The app when not operating in ‘child mode’ asks users their name and age. The reason for these questions is to provide the best possible experience and optimize the app’s content, say it’s creators.
When in child mode all topics are said to be family friendly with Talking Angela able to determine the most suitable topics of conversation according to a user’s age.
However the real problem is the lack of barrier between children and adult mode modes and the fact that the kids can easily access, from child mode, the Music button which brings them directly to ‘YouTube’ and from there as there is no parental gate, they can scroll down and view comments from adults and older children which may be, and invariably are, inappropriate – not to mention being able to access other content while on YouTube. This is due largely to the creators want for an app ‘that can satisfy kids and adults’ so they can ‘stay on top of the chart’.
As well as aggregated data collection, Outfit7 admit they collect conversations, stating, ‘but we are only interested in how certain topics are accessed, and which are the most popular’. Well that’s fine then.?
Outfit7 have said that by Easter 2014 the app will have improved ‘Child Mode’ with password so children can’t toggle out of child mode. Might have been an idea to address this concern prior to launch though.
Another area of concern and it’s not clear yet if this will be addressed is ‘in app purchasing’ though while this is controversial in games and apps that children use, it is quite common on other apps.
It seems from testing the app that young children really aren’t meant to be using Talking Angela’s text chat, yet the creators have not taken any real measures to prevent younger users from simply toggling the ‘child mode’ off it. The hoax which started on social media around the dangers of the App is another reminder to parents that trying these platforms out first before letting our kids use them might be the way forward. It’s essential that we keep ourselves up to date with this changing landscape – the next new app will be just around the corner.
So here’s my lowdown on main concerns:
- Child mode/toggle is too easily turned off.
- It connects too easily to You Tube where children can easily access and view inappropriate videos and adult comments.
- As with many other apps there’s the risk of in-app purchasing – with real money.
What Outfit 7 should do for parents
The developers need to seriously look at introducing a pin or password to make it more difficult for children to turn off child mode. As soon as possible. Will check this out again at Easter.
So if your child loves the talking angela app and you’re happy to supervise use, go ahead. Use your own judgement and keep an eye on the conversations. But when they’re talking to Angela, I wouldn’t recommend catnapping.
Posted By Wayne Denner