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CTIA Mobile Application Ratings System with ESRB

CTIA-The Wireless Association® and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), together with six founding mobile app storefronts and numerous developers, worked closely to create a rating system specifically designed for mobile applications. These ratings, which are similar to those assigned for video games, provide concise and impartial information about the content and age-appropriateness of apps so that consumers, especially parents, can make informed decisions as to which ones are suitable for their children and family.


The CTIA Mobile Application Rating System with ESRB has three parts:


  • the Rating Category (often identified via a rating symbol), which suggests age appropriateness;

  • Content Descriptors, which indicate elements that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern; and

  • Interactive Elements, which inform consumers about other elements that may be of interest or concern, including possible exposure to unfiltered user-generated content, displaying a user's location to other users or the sharing of user-provided personal information with third parties.


Participating storefronts may display any or all of the components of an app's rating prior to it being downloaded and/or utilize this information as filtering criteria. The complete rating information for all ESRB-rated mobile apps is accessible by searching the ESRB website.


ESRB Rating Categories


esrb ratings symbol for all ages All Ages

Typically contains no material that parents would find inappropriate, but may contain mild, fantastical depictions of non-human violence, crude humor, infrequent casino-style gambling and/or rare references to alcohol or tobacco.

esrb ratings symbol for ages 10+ Ages 10+

May contain mild depictions of violence (human or non-human), minimal suggestive themes, mild language and/or rare use of alcohol or tobacco.

esrb ratings symbol for ages 13+ Ages 13+

May contain more realistic depictions of violence (including blood), mild sexual themes and/or suggestive depictions, moderate profanity and/or use of alcohol or tobacco.

esrb ratings symbol for ages 17+ Ages 17+

May contain more intense, graphic depictions of violence, sexual content, nudity, strong language and/or use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

esrb ratings symbol for ages 18+ Ages 18+

May contain depictions of sexual acts (including nudity) or enable gambling with real currency.


ESRB Content Descriptors

  • Alcohol Reference - Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
  • Blood - Depictions of blood
  • Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
  • Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
  • Crude Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor
  • Drug Reference - Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
  • Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
  • Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
  • Language - Mild to moderate use of profanity
  • Nudity - Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
  • Partial Nudity - Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
  • Real Gambling - Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
  • Sexual Content - Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
  • Sexual Themes - References to sex or sexuality
  • Simulated Gambling - Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
  • Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
  • Strong Sexual Content - Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity
  • Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials
  • Tobacco Reference - Reference to and/or images of tobacco products
  • Use of Alcohol - The consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Use of Drugs - The consumption or use of illegal drugs
  • Use of Tobacco - The consumption of tobacco products
  • Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment


NOTE: The age rating categories described above are intended only as a general guideline, and may be assigned based upon a variety of factors including an app's minimum age requirement. Content descriptors do not necessarily list every type of content one might encounter in the course of using an app. When a content descriptor is preceded by the term "Mild" it is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity of the content it modifies.


Interactive Elements

Shares Info

Shares Info - Indicates that personal information provided by the user (e.g., e-mail address, phone number, credit card info, etc.) is shared with third parties

Shares Location

Shares Location - Includes the ability to display the user's location to other users of the app

Users Interact

Users Interact - Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks



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