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Pop-up ads on preschool apps troubling, study says

(Source: WBRC video)
Updated: Oct. 31, 2018 at 7:20 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Most parents say screen time is inevitable, allowing their child to play on their cell phone or tablet at some point.

But recently, some have also noticed a disturbing trend in apps that are supposed to be for children. They’ve noticed pop-up ads.

“It got interrupted after two minutes of watching a video and it’s like, what’s going on?” Jennifer Molina recalled after watching a video with her child recently.

“A lot of times I try to monitor what she’s watching,” says Shejuana Edwards. “But if I’m not right there, I may not know what she’s exposed to inside of that pop up.”

A recent study that focused on smartphone apps for preschoolers raised concerns about how these pop-up ads and app purchases can affect the young eyes watching them.

“They don’t have the capacity to push out what is fun and games. Their minds are so impressionable,” says Dr. James Ernest, a professor of early childhood education at UAB.

He says while manufacturers see the pop-ups as a great way to push their product onto a younger audience, some consumer safety advocates are taking study results to agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and asking for changes.

“These ideas are being pushed back to them that children are supposed to be protected but when it comes back to these types of applications--there is no protection,” Dr. Ernest says.

It’s a frustration moms say they try to work around as best they can.

“We do install app-blocks just because it makes it easier to control, but I wish I wouldn’t have to control it,” Molina says.

“I think that more should be able to be done about it, but in the meantime, we just have to monitor our kids,” Edwards adds.

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