What’s okay for kids to read?

Amanda Greenslade

We are asked quite often by authors what we mean when we ask “Does this book contain any explicit material?” on our information form. The reason we ask this question is because when we upload your ebook to Apple we need to approve it for children to read (under 18s).

Apple says:

In iOS 6, Parental Controls are now available for books. With iBooks 2.2 and higher, if you turn on Parental Controls, books in your library marked as containing sexually explicit content will be hidden. You cannot open, read, or download these books again with Parental Controls active.

In iOS 6, if you turn on Parental Controls, books marked as containing sexually explicit content in the iBooks Store will be disabled from purchase, preview, and sharing. When you turn on Parental Controls, if you try to view books marked as containing explicit sexual content in the iBooks Store:

This message will appear: ‘This book contains explicit sexual content. To download it, you must first go to Settings and edit your restrictions.’
  • The buy and sample buttons will be disabled.
  • No sharing link will appear.
  • A generic book's image will appear on the product page and in search results, rather than the original book's image.

There is no specific guide from Apple as to what is classed as “explicit content”, so you must use your own judgment. A rule of thumb might be to consider whether you would be okay with having children under the age of 18 read your book.

Many would agree there is a difference between what is okay for children (under 13) and teenagers (13–18) to read, so consider that there is also the option to mark your book as 13 and older. Amanda Greenslade, director of Australian eBook Publisher, believes that Your book would be unsuitable for under 13s if the book has:

  • the F word or the C word
  • a lot of very negative/abusive swearing even if not the two baddies above
  • anything sexual at all
  • rape, abuse, strong violence (with exception for educating about same in an age-appropriate manner)
  • strong violence (head/limb/ear severed, close combat stabbing with graphic descriptions of blood and guts, maiming, trapped and burning inside, horrible deaths etc.)
  • violent or graphic horror or strong scary thriller themes
  • any imagery or video that would be classified higher than PG if it was in a movie

It might be considered OK to classify as children's material (under 13) the following:

  • the occasional swearword, but not F or C.
  • references to violence (but not strong violence)
  • mild to moderate violence (fisticuffs, shooting from a distance, falling, stabbing, sword fights, space battles, vehicles shooting each other, even death but not in great physical detail)
  • mild/non-erotic/fully clothed kissing and cuddling
  • descriptions and visuals of:
    • natural predator/prey behavior
    • animal cruelty, animal farming, slaughter-houses, battery hens, etc.
    • as long as they are not in great detail (gory)

For material including drowning, death, or maiming by fire, airplane crashes, animal attack, violence against non-human characters, animal personas etc., I suggest ebook authors err on the side of caution and consider 13 and up for this sort of content.

Do you have any insight of your own? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

For more on the definition of explicit ebooks please see our FAQ article http://www.australianebookpublisher.com.au/faq.php#explicitcontent

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