This post was originally published on Fourth Source. A fun way to estimate people’s ages is to ask what they think about smartphone and tablet use among two-year-olds. If the person is too young, he will be afraid to talk about children. If the person is too old, he will be afraid to discuss the tablet. If he’s somewhere in between – the fact that these kids use tablets more than teenagers will upset him. Either way, you’re in for a treat. What exactly is it about children’s familiarity with the mobile world that we find so frustrating? The answer has to do with the simple fact that marketers tend to track users. The mobile sector is becoming less apologetic about seeing children as a legitimate market share. Obviously, this approach suffers from harsher restrictions on approving applications that target such a sensitive group. There are specific federal guidelines for protecting children’s privacy (COPPA), and when it comes to the category of apps for kids, Apple is known to be particularly strict. Aside from the ethics and bureaucracy surrounding it, marketing to children shouldn’t be too aggressive, or you could run the risk of financial penalties. The US Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Google whereby the company will reimburse parents of young children for app purchases made by their children (in the in some cases to the point of putting entire families in debt). Similarly, just last year, Apple settled a class-action lawsuit for that very reason. If you think this is like taking candy from a child – think again, as you may have to return the candy. While it is understandable that there is an inherent criticism of marketing to a relatively vulnerable young crowd, we cannot ignore this market share entirely. And so, instead, we’ve chosen to focus on some of the compelling features of mobile marketing for kids. Anyway, whose tablet is it? When personalization is the name of the game, mobile is king. We know where the user is headed, what he likes and some details that might scare you a bit. Personal devices allow us to reach specific users, based on their interests. That’s why the multi-user concept is such an earthquake for marketers. Despite the increasing youth purchases of mobile devices, children are still likely to use their parents’ devices to watch videos, play games, and smear whatever they just ate on it. This means that even though the user’s Facebook profile says he’s in his 30s, the person who just spent two hours surfing the train can’t actually read your notifications. You should carefully consider your options and think about whether it is worth it to follow such users for more accurate results, or choose your marketing platform accordingly. Dad, buy me this app! Ok, so we’ve just given you a detailed explanation of how native targeting is missing points. Now is the time to assert the opposite. Because if you think for a second that you can market to kids without talking to parents – you are sorely mistaken. Your message must convince the child that the app is awesome and fun, while also assuring the parent that the app is educational. Not easy is it? Well, kids never are. In the end, if you manage to strike the right balance and get mommy to believe that this zombie game is the first step on the road to starting your own game – you’ve made it. Fun (and controversial) fact: Parents aren’t just looking for educational apps. They want apps that keep their kids busy. In fact, 60% admit to using gadgets as a distraction. So the peace of mind you want to give can be just a few moments of priceless peace and quiet. The kids want to go We want to drive you a little crazy here, so allow me to contradict myself again. Remember that solid explanation of parenting as a way of selling to children? It turns out that selling to parents begins with marketing to children. Children influence and guide family purchasing decisions. Food, holiday, and brand choices are all profoundly influenced by what lovable little dictators want. Your path to a parent’s wallet begins with the child’s mind. You can invest in a clever, complex message that would be disappointing to see a four-year-old throw a tantrum. Try adding fun visuals and familiar branding to your written message to grab the attention of young children. This is especially true when it comes to vacations, as finding the right activity for kids seems to be at the heart of the decision-making process. Take into account the fact that their attention span is relatively short, so the bottom line needs to be unique. Marketing to children is quite a fascinating challenge. Targeting the right audience and delivering them the right messages is an expertise we pride ourselves on. But even if the main thing you feel right now is the need to explore – that’s great. I mean, look at Dora the Explorer – she seems to handle the challenge of marketing to kids pretty well.