These days more and more parents are concerned about the content that their children come across while using the Internet on their electronic devices. That’s because they are not only scared about the questionable content that can appear at any time (despite many restrictions and filters that can easily pass the censors) but because kids are becoming the new online targets by big corporations. As a matter of fact, there’s a new report that says advertisements in kids’ apps are actually more prevalent than any before. And yes, some parents are completely unaware of it, too.
According to Science Daily, over 95 percent of reviewed apps for children under the age of 5 include some sort of advertising. That means that companies are trying to sell our kids their latest products – whether it’s a new toy, electronic device, or even a new car – without parents even knowing about it. In some instances, a child might get a pop up ad that is either misleading or not always age appropriate while they are playing a game on one of their apps.
The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics studied over 135 different apps. Their study found that many advertisers are using manipulative and disruptive methods with overt banner ads and without any real consequence, too.
Senior author Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental behavioral expert and pediatrician at Mott explains, "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 well-being."
Radesky also says that one of the most concerning things about this study is that there doesn’t seem to be that many pop-up ads can show up at anytime. And what’s worse is that there’s no way of knowing what might show up on your child’s screen at any given time.
"Our findings show that the early childhood app market is a wild west, with a lot of apps appearing more focused on making money than the child's play experience," she says. "This has important implications for advertising regulation, the ethics of child app design, as well as how parents discern which children's apps are worth downloading."
So, what can parents do? First and foremost, monitor what your children are doing online on a daily basis. It’s also been noted that Child consumer advocacy groups, such as the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, plan to file a complaint with the Federal Commission over the study’s findings.