Parents’ unwillingness to stump up cash for children’s apps is exposing their offspring to adult ad-sales techniques

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Pop-up advertising designed to be hard to close; in-game characters showing disapproval if you don’t make in-app purchases; ads with Donald Trump pressing a “nuke” button. None of these things should be appearing in children’s apps, but they were all found by researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School in a recent study of 135 apps “marketed to or played by” children under five years old.

It’s a long way from 2010, shortly after Apple’s iPad launched, when dozens of children’s app developers sprang up, hoping to meet the anticipated demand from parents for high-quality, educational and entertaining apps. Which they’d happily pay for.

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