Most of the Fisher-Price apps, for example, are free but warn in their privacy policies that “third parties” can collect information about a person’s device for possible marketing purposes.
Federal law says advertising can’t mislead consumers and, in some cases, must be backed by scientific evidence. In 2012, the FTC – which enforces truth-in-advertising laws – agreed with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood that the developer of “Your Baby Can Read” lied when it promised consumers it could teach babies as young as 9 months to read. That business shuttered after the FTC imposed a $185 million settlement.
In 2006, the group asked the FTC to prohibit the makers of Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos from making claims about educational benefits. The FTC eventually declined to act after the companies, owned by the Walt Disney Co., agreed to remove some marketing promises from its packages and took down testimonials that claimed educational benefits. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood still pressed a group of lawyers to threaten a class-action lawsuit, and Disney began offering cash refunds for videos purchased.
Linn said her organization targeted Fisher-Price and Open Solutions because their baby apps were among the most popular and because they represented an overall trend of deceptive marketing practices by app developers, both big and small.
Leticia Barr, a former schoolteacher who runs the website Tech Savvy Mama, said apps might be educational but not until a child is much older.
“I think at a certain age, apps can certainly reinforce educational learning in kids,” such as working on the alphabet or numbers. “But it’s not a substitute for the parent. It’s not a substitute for reading. It’s not a substitute for the things you do in everyday life.”<< previous 1 2 3