Study: 95% of children's apps have ads
Children 4 years and 1 years play on their tablet. The study showed that 95% of all applications for children 5 years and under contain at least one type of advertising. Photo: Mark Makela / Corbis, Getty Images An
annoying ad literally flooded the modern web. Adults can fight it by installing ad blockers not only for themselves, but for everyone they know. It is very difficult to maintain mental balance on the Internet if distracting banners come from all sides. Therefore, ad blockers are not just a recommendation for comfort, but actually a medical necessity.
Unfortunately, it is more difficult to block ads on mobile devices, especially if it is embedded in mobile applications. Children suffer the most from this. New research revealedthat 95% of all applications for children 5 years and under contain at least one type of advertising. It seems that the developers of some applications deliberately target ads on the smallest people.
The scientific article was published on October 26, 2018 in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (doi: 10.1097 / DBP.0000000000000622).
As part of the experiment, the authors of the study downloaded and launched 39 applications designed for children aged 12 months to 5 years. Two researchers played in each application, made detailed notes on the design of advertising and iteratively refined the code book with the classification of advertising. Then the codes were applied to the 96 most popular free and paid applications in the category “Up to five years” (5 And Under) of the Google Play catalog.
Here are the results: of the 135 reviewed applications, 129 (95%) contained at least one type of advertising, including:
- use of trademarks (42%);
- full application teasers (46%);
- promotional videos that interrupt playback, for example, pop-up windows (35%) or when unlocking game items (16%);
in-app purchases (30%);
- a call to rate the application (28%);
- appeal to share on social media (14%);
- distracting ads, such as banners on the screen (17%);
- hidden advertising with misleading symbols, such as “$”, or banners, camouflaged under the gameplay (7%).
Advertising is much more common in free applications than in paid (100% vs. 88%), but it is equally common in applications marked as “educational” compared to other categories.
“When younger children use mobile devices an average of one hour per day, it is important to understand how this type of commercial impact can affect the health and well-being of children,” says lead study author Jenny Radesky, MD, behavioral expert. and pediatrician children's clinic Motta at the University of Michigan.
Radeski notes that the research team found frequent instances of the use of "manipulative and destructive methods." In some cases, the impact of advertising even exceeds the time that a child spends in the game.
Some ads are especially false and manipulative. For example, a familiar cartoon character appears on the screen. He recalls that paying for certain upgrades and purchases in the app will give access to more attractive options and make the game more exciting.
The study provides specific examples of manipulations:
- In the game Olaf's Adventures from Disney Studios, clicking on the glowing cake, which is not marked as an advertisement, takes the player to the store.
- In the Doctor Kids app from Bubadu, the game character cries if the player presses the “Exit Store” button.
“Our results show that the market for applications for young children is a wild west, and many applications are more focused on making money than on the child’s gaming experience,” concludes Dr. Radesky. “This has important implications for advertising regulation, children's application design ethics, and how parents can determine which children's applications to download.”
The authors recall the findings of previous studies that children under 8 cannot distinguish media content from advertising : “Digital advertising is more personalized, displayed on demand, and is embedded in interactive mobile devices. Children may think that this is just part of the game, ”says the doctor.
Child protection groups led by Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood plan to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission based on the research findings.