Apps Advertisements for Kids: A Big Bad Idea
Okay, some of you app developers. The FTC warned you once about the unnecessary ads and links you were putting into children’s apps. And what did you do? You got worse! The latest report from the FTC, Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” found that, while many companies are responsible and kid-friendly, others don’t mind exploiting children while they are enjoying fun and educational applications.
We are not happy with this news, and parents and educators around the world aren’t either. We believe in providing kid-appropriate material in our entertaining apps, so we do not use in-app advertisements or allow in-app purchases in our children’s programs. Other companies advertise their apps as “free,” but their “free” comes with a pretty big price: your children’s exposure to material you may not know is there.
According to the FTC:
- 58% of the apps they studied contained advertising in the app, but only 15% of the developers shared that information before the app download.
- 22% of the apps had links to social network sites, but only 9% shared that fact.
- 17% of the apps let kids make in-app purchases costing between 99 cents to $29.99. The app stores did advertise feature, but the language was sometimes hard to find and understand.
Even parents who are being careful with their children’s downloads can end up exposing them to advertisements and outside links they didn’t know were in the app. That is distressing for you and for us. Responsible developers need to charge up front for apps targeted toward children and then leave the other stuff out. No one wants a six-year-old to inadvertently order expensive upgrades or be able to link to social media sites, which are not always safe places for kids. Also, do youngsters really need to be exposed to more advertising? Let’s allow them to enjoy the apps they have without interruption and unnecessary temptations.
We strongly agree with the FTC’s call for app developers, marketers, and third party advertisers to get their acts together and make sure parents know exactly what they are downloading for their children. The FTC is calling for transparency and threatening to take stronger action if the industry doesn’t take its own steps to protect the children.
Children’s apps are supposed to be fun and educational. We also want to make money, but we don’t want to take advantage of our customers and their kids. After all, we’re in this journey together.