How to Develop a Mobile App for Kids

Topic: Guides

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As digital natives, today's youth are highly engaged by the technology at their fingertips. In 2020, kids ages 5-16 spent over 4.5 hours per day using screens for entertainment (according to research by Digital Marketing Institute). This highlights the massive opportunity to develop engaging content and useful apps for children. There is huge potential for education and entertainment apps tailored to children's interests. This article provides guidance on successfully developing a mobile app for kids.

Understanding Your Target Audience

The first step is to conduct thorough market research to identify your target users and their needs. The children's market can be segmented by children's age range, developmental stage, interests, and learning preferences:

  • Preschool kids (ages 2-5) are just learning basic literacy and math concepts. Apps focused on the alphabet, phonics, numbers, shapes, colors, and simple puzzles are appropriate.
  • Elementary school children (ages 6-10) can benefit from apps that build foundational academic skills in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. They also enjoy simulation and creativity apps.
  • Tweens (ages 10-12) want apps that reflect their interests like gaming, sports, and social media. Apps with chat features should include parental controls.
  • Teens (ages 13-17) are interested in creative apps for making music/art, gaming, video streaming, and social networking. Ensure privacy protections are robust.

It would be useful to consult child development experts to gain insights into age-appropriate content and learning theories. You should also survey parents to assess needs and get feedback on app ideas.

Establishing Parental Confidence

When crafting an app primarily for children, it's crucial to acknowledge that parents are the ones making the purchasing decisions. Thus, you're essentially catering to two distinct user groups, each with their own set of objectives and standards.

To persuade parents to invest in a children's app, it's imperative to demonstrate:

  • The app's value proposition for their children.
  • Evidence of their children actively engaging with and benefiting from the app.
  • Assurance of the app's reliability and safety for their children's use.

Visible compliance with all child safety regulations and security considerations is key to winning the trust of parents. For instance, there’s the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US, the Children’s code in the UK, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. These regulations, together with the subsequent app store guidelines heavily restrict what data you can collect and transmit in your app, as well as what content you can show to kids.

Creating age-appropriate content is crucial for ensuring that material is suitable for kids

Defining Your Business Strategy

Before you build:

  • Spy on the competition: Check out other kids' apps, see what they offer, how much they cost, and what users like and dislike. Look for gaps where your app can shine!
  • Market size matters: Research how many potential users are out there and how quickly this market is growing. This helps you understand your audience and potential success.
  • Set your goals: Decide if you want to make money, reach a certain number of users, or have the coolest app around. Having clear goals helps you make the right decisions.

Financial Planning and App Monetization Models

Carefully consider which revenue models best align to your app's value proposition, target audience, and business growth. Common options include paid apps, in-app purchases, subscriptions and advertising.

Monetization Model

Revenue Generation

Cost Considerations

Paid apps

Upfront fee to download app

Lower customer acquisition, but limits audience

In-app purchases

Sell virtual goods or premium features

Development costs for add-on features


Recurring monthly/annual fees

Ongoing creation of new content


Ad networks, video ads, sponsorships

Small revenue per user, may turn off users

Choosing the right monetization model for your kids' app is absolutely crucial for its success and sustainability. Here's why:

  • Meeting user expectations:  Kids (and their parents!) expect a certain level of value from an app. Intrusive ads or excessive in-app purchases can quickly sour the experience and damage your reputation.
  • Building trust and loyalty: A well-chosen monetization model fosters trust and loyalty. If parents feel they're getting fair value for their money, they're more likely to keep using your app and recommend it to others.
  • Standing out from the crowd: The kids' app market is fiercely competitive. A unique and sustainable monetization model can help you differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Attracting and retaining users: The right model can attract new users and keep existing ones engaged, leading to long-term growth for your app.
  • Sustainable revenue streams: A well-defined monetization model helps you generate sustainable revenue and cover the costs of development, maintenance, and updates.
Recommendations on monetization strategy from a Reddit user

Designing for Your Young Users

Well-designed apps for children apply visual aesthetics that appeal to kids, incorporating bright, vibrant colors, fun sounds, and interfaces with simple intuitive interactions. Readability is enhanced through clear, easy to read font choices. Positive reinforcements like animated celebrations of progress give feedback during app use.

Experts like child psychologists and educators can provide invaluable guidance to app designers. Consulting them helps avoid potentially harmful content while ensuring age-appropriate design. Parental controls over privacy protections and purchase permissions give parents oversight over their child's app experience.

The app experience should focus on delighting and engaging children through play, discovery, and interactive narratives. Wherever possible, educational value should be incorporated, tying into school curriculum and promoting skills development. 

App Development Process

Experienced developers skilled in programming languages like Swift and Kotlin as well as cross-platform frameworks like React Native comprise teams adept at building high-quality children's apps. Following best coding practices and robust development processes ensures the implementation of maintainable, modular code architectures.

The user interface employs consistent design patterns across all app features and screens. Rigorous testing on target devices occurs continuously throughout development cycles, ensuring robustness. Feedback from user testing of prototypes enables iterative refinement and improvement of the user experience.

For kids' apps, prioritization goes to stability, performance, reliability and responsiveness. The apps need to function seamlessly. Leveraging cloud infrastructure facilitates security, scalability, and offline support capabilities.

Core App Features

App Type

Key Objectives

App Features

Educational Apps

Align to curriculum standards in literacy, STEM, social studies, etc.

Provide engaging exercises, quizzes, and progress tracking.

Interactive lessons and flashcards for math, science, phonics, etc.

Reward systems to motivate learning.

Learning Games

Teach through interactive play.

Include diverse gameplay and escalating challenges to build skills.

Educational puzzles, quizzes, mazes, matching games.

Multiplayer modes. Different difficulty levels.

Creativity Apps

Enable creating artwork, music, animations, stories.

Offer media libraries and sharing options.

Drawing tools, stickers, templates, sound effects.

Animation and coding apps. Social sharing of creations.

Entertainment Apps

Offer an immersive experience with storyline, characters, quests tailored to kids' interests.

Storytelling and dialogues. Customizable avatars and virtual worlds.

Themed adventures and explorations.

Health & Fitness Apps

Promote healthy habits like exercise, nutrition, sleep, and meditation.

Exercise videos, fitness challenges and tracking.

Healthy recipes and meal plans. Mindfulness and meditation exercises.

Reading Apps

Foster literacy and reading skills.

Provide access to books, audiobooks, and reading resources.

Interactive ebooks with narration and animations.

Audiobooks, libraries, reading challenges.


Develop science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Coding games and challenges.

Virtual science experiments and simulations. Math practice and puzzles.

Safety features are crucial when developing mobile apps for kids

Safety Features 

Safety features are crucial when developing mobile apps for kids. The immaturity and vulnerability of young users means extra care must be taken to protect their best interests. Making safety central to your app's design shows responsibility towards your audience. Here are some key points on including safety features in kids' apps:


Safety Features

Age Verification

Require age confirmation to restrict access for under 13 users

Parental Controls

Enable parents to manage purchases, screen time, content filtering

Privacy Regulations

Comply with COPPA rules on collecting kids' data


Avoid behavioral ads based on tracking kids' usage

User Interactions

Moderate chat and comments to prevent cyberbullying

Social Sharing

Limit or disable sharing personal info on social media

Location Tracking

Avoid unnecessary collection of geolocation data

Data Security

Encrypt stored data, transmit over HTTPS, minimize collection


Provide easy ways to report offensive content or unsafe interactions

Parent Resources

Offer help guides explaining safety measures and controls

Marketing and User Acquisition

Marketing and user acquisition for a mobile app targeted at children involves a unique set of strategies and considerations, given the sensitive nature of the audience and the involvement of their parents or guardians in the decision-making process. Here are key strategies to effectively market your app and acquire users:

Enhancing App Store Listings

  • Enhance app store listings by incorporating captivating descriptions highlighting benefits, along with engaging screenshots and videos.
  • Consider reaching out to relevant bloggers and influencers to introduce your app.

Utilizing Social Media and Advertising

  • Utilize social media platforms and targeted advertising within apps and search results to promote your app effectively.

Engaging with Parents and Teachers

  • Connect with parents and educators through collaborative partnerships, sponsorships, and outreach initiatives in schools.

Analyzing Marketing Metrics

  • Analyze performance metrics across various marketing channels to identify areas for improvement and adjustment.

Fostering User Retention

  • Implement updates, promotional activities, and maintain a consistent brand identity to encourage user retention.

Maintaining and Growing Your App

Ensuring App Maintenance and Growth

  • Regularly test and monitor app performance to promptly address any bugs that arise.
  • Plan and implement the release of enhancements and new features according to a predetermined schedule.
  • Simplify procedures for managing submissions and app reviews to streamline the process.

Managing Scalability and Localization

  • Efficiently scale cloud infrastructure to accommodate user growth.
  • Expand the app's reach by localizing it into additional languages.
  • Pay close attention to user feedback and requests to continuously improve the app.

Building Community Engagement and Revenue

  • Cultivate an engaged user community through social media engagement and hosting branded events.
  • Prioritize revenue growth, profitability, and establishing a strong presence within the children's mobile app market.


Creating a successful mobile app for kids takes strategic planning, expert design, technical excellence, and responsible business practices. Cyfrania team can help you with all these aspects as we have an experience of building mobile apps for kids. One of them is the Kidiyo mobile eLearning app from Kids Worldwide Edutainment, aimed at preschoolers. Its goal is to shift kids from online to real-world experiences through integration with offline learning tools. To bring these bold visions to life, the Kidiyo app underwent essential technical transformations, a task embraced by Cyfrania's development team. A significant achievement was recently marked by transitioning the original web-based application to the Unity gaming platform.

If you also want to develop a mobile app from scratch or modernize an existing one, feel free to contact us. 

  Sources for Further Reading 

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