The Education Arcade’s Scot Osterweil tells the Wall Street Journal that industry now has “the ability to invade the kids’ space much more aggressively than ever before”. He’s talking about so-called freemium apps, which parents download free, hand over to their kids, and then discover $99 credit card charges when their inexperienced kids buy in-game upgrades:
As successful as this marketing proved to be for the Smurfs–they reached $600 million in annual retail sales during the early 1980s–it still required a trip to the store. Smartphones eliminate that step. Parents might control passwords and maintain authority over purchases, but the technology allows instant purchase and delivery.
Weary parents, who could simply say no to their kids, sometimes don’t know exactly how these games work. The Federal Trade Commission says it is considering new rules to improve disclosure about online purchasing. Meanwhile the industry, which has hooked a core audience, is plowing ahead.
“You’ve now got the ability to invade the kids’ space much more aggressively than ever before,” said Scot Osterweil, a designer of educational games and a research director of the comparative media-studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The Hidden Cost of Apps for Children”—The Wall Street Journal