Children's smart games can sell them behind their backs. Some 95% of the downloaded programs for children ages 5 and…
Children‘s smart games can sell them behind their backs.
Some 95% of the downloaded programs for children ages 5 and using at least one type of advertising tactics, according to a study from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Barns Hospital, which was released Tuesday. These applications, many of which are featured as educational games, have popup video ads, characters that persuade children to make purchases in app and banner ads, found researchers. The study, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, looked at more than 135 apps.
These marketing strategies were used in 1
00% of the free programs analyzed in the study and 88% of apps that cost money, and they occurred at the same rates in both. Video ads were in one third of all analyzed apps and more than half of free apps.
Purchases in app, a way to make users (in this case, children) pay for an upgrade while using the app, were present in one third of all apps and 41% of free apps. “Our findings show that the early childhood app market is a wild west, with many apps focused more on earning money than the child’s gaming experience,” says senior writer Jenny Radesky, a development practice expert and pediatrician at Mott.
Some of the games have hidden ads while others interrupt play with a video that the kids have to watch to continue playing or earning credit in the game.
Children do not understand adult marketing, which makes them more vulnerable to advertising. “It’s very hard for them to recognize advertising, but it’s even more difficult to understand when it’s embedded in games,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a national advocating coalition of healthcare professionals, teachers and parents.
The organization sent a public letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting a survey of apps for toddlers. Therefore, the CCFC, together with the Center for Digital Democracy, argued that these apps’ marketing practices – intended for parents but showing on young children – are unfair and deceptive to both. “Before we have a regulated app market for children, [parents] should ignore these things,” said Golin.
Many children are not capable of detecting “convincing intentions” in advertising until they are at least 7 years old, according to a study published in 2017, “The Effect of Advertising on Children and Young People” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although pre-school children can identify marketing, they may not be able to effectively defend themselves against the findings, researchers said.
“Children’s readiness to learn from their social world makes them vulnerable until they develop skepticism,” the researchers wrote. “But as an adult, we may be skeptical but still fail to use our critical thinking skills all the time.”
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Advertising rules do not directly affect the use of smartphones or games, “said Golin, although the children’s use of media platforms has increased dramatically over the last few decades .
Advertisers spend more than $ 12 billion a year to reach the youth market, and the kids watch 40,000 commercials each year. The FTC adopted the Privacy Protection Act in 2000, which focused on collecting personal data for children under the age of 13 on the internet, but it does not regulate how advertisers can market children online as it does on television.
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