A new study finds potentially manipulative ads in apps for preschoolers

14 01 2019

Nov 11, 2018

Apps marketed to children 5 and younger deploy potentially manipulating tactics to deliver ads to children, raising questions about the ethics of child software design and consumer protection, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital looked at more than 100 apps, mostly from the Google Play Store, and found that nearly all of them had at least one type of ad, often interwoven into the apps’ activities and games. The apps, according to the researchers, used a variety of ways to deliver ads to children, including: using commercial characters, pop-up ads, in-app purchases and, in some cases, distracting ads, hidden ads or ads that were posed as gameplay items.


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