Several child advocacy groups warn that some apps targeted at young children are potentially dangerous and costly.
Experts say that many apps in the form of games or educational tools often manipulate children with ads that appear to be part of the game. Children led to believing that if they click on the ad, they help them move on in the game. But instead, they are often taken to the app store and tell about buying an upgrade, according to Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.
“Almost all of these games are marketed as free, but you can not actually do anything in the games unless you make purchases in the app,” said Golin. “And to make matters worse, the characters in the games actually create explicit sales points for the kids who play these games to make purchases in the app and they are disappointed if the kids do not buy purchases in the app.”
Golin said researcher at the University of California, Berkeley looked at about 5,000 children’s apps and found that more than half of them could violate the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Experts say that many of these apps, labeled as free and educational, track, collect and share sensitive information, even in some cases the physical location of the user ̵
1; a violation of federal law. Golin was joined by other children advocates at a press conference with US senator Richard Blumenthal, urging the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a survey of the pre-school market.