Childrens’ rights advocates pressed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Android apps they believe trick children into watching adverts and making in-app purchases.
A coalition of 22 consumer and public health advocacy groups including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) said these activities are unethical and illegal and asked the FTC “to take swift and decisive action to hold app developers accountable for their unfair and deceptive marketing.”
The call came in conjunction with the publication of a joint study by academics from the University of Michigan in the US and National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan titled Advertising in Young Children’s Apps, which examined 135 children’s apps. The analysis found “a number of troubling advertising practices” including apps the authors stated “force kids to watch ads or make in-app purchases in order to advance in the game, ads disguised as game play, and beloved characters urging children to make in-app purchases”.
A statement by the coalition quoted pediatrician Jenny Radesky (one of the report’s authors) as saying: “With young children now using mobile devices on an average of one hour a day, it’s important to understand how this type of commercial exposure may impact children’s health and wellbeing.”
In January CCFC asked for Facebook’s Messenger Kids app to be discontinued, stating that social media can be harmful for young people. In April it criticised YouTube’s practice of generating “significant profits from kid-targeted advertising”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back