Your Kid’s Apps Are Crammed With Ads

New York Times 

  • A new study by Dr. Jenny Radesky, assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, found advertising present in almost all of the most downloaded apps for children ages five and younger, many of which appear to violate the F.T.C. rules regarding unfair and deceptive advertising.
  • “In apps marketed for children 5 and under in the Google Play store, there were pop-up ads with disturbing imagery. There were ads that no child could reasonably be expected to close out of, and which, when triggered, would send a player into more ads. Dancing treasure chests would give young players points for watching video ads, potentially endlessly. The vast majority of ads were not marked at all. Characters in children’s games gently pressured the kids to make purchases, a practice known as host-selling, banned in children’s TV programs in 1974 by the Federal Trade Commission. At other times an onscreen character would cry if the child did not buy something.”
  • “To accompany the publication of the study, called “Advertising in Young Children’s Apps: A Content Analysis”, more than a dozen media and children’s health advocacy organizations sent the F.T.C. a letter asking for an investigation.” They argue that the advertising tactics described in the study “violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which bans unfair and deceptive business practices.”
  • “The tide has turned… You can feel it. A few years ago to suggest limiting tech for kids would have sounded alarmist, and now that’s changing. It’s unfair to children and deceptive the way the ads are structured into the play” – Dr. Montgomery, a professor of Communications at American University)
  • “The hardest argument to make when you live in the U.S. is that children’s rights should be higher than the rights of advertisers”
  • Many of the apps looked at in the study were free apps.
  • The authors argue that the “bombardment of advertising undercuts most of the educational content an app may include.”
  • Dr. Jenny Radesky, the study’s author, “hopes the study will lead parents to ask more questions about the games their kids are playing. And she hopes it leads to regulation, though she suspects that will be a harder battle.”

Read full New York Times article here: Your Kid’s Apps Are Crammed With Ads