Baby App Makers Accused of Misleading Parents

Dennis Faas's picture

Fisher Price has been accused of producing misleading advertisements for 'educational' applications aimed at children.

The allegations come from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). It has filed formal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Fisher Price and Open Solutions.

The CCFC says Fisher Price claims its 'Laugh and Learn' range of apps can help young children advance their math and language skills. Open Solutions makes similar claims about apps featuring reading and spelling challenges.

According to the CCFC, "neither company offers any evidence to back up their claims, and not a single credible scientific study has yet shown that babies can acquire the skills these apps claim to teach by interacting with screens."

In fact, the CCFC argues that letting very young children use screens for a long time can be harmful to them. (Source:

Group Says Misleading Ads Is An Industry-Wide Issue

The CCFC has therefore asked the FTC to begin a formal investigation into whether the two firms are engaged in deceptive marketing. It adds that although it has highlighted two of the most prominent "offenders", they are part of a wider trend of app developers marketing 'educational' apps at babies.

The group also wants the FTC to draw up guidelines for app developers to follow when marketing apps aimed at infants and toddlers. They want a rule that firms can only use the term 'educational' when they have clear evidence that the app has educational benefits for its intended age group.

For its part, Fisher Price says it carries out extensive educational and developmental research before releasing any of its educational toys or applications.

Developer Says Apps Not Meant For Solo Use

Open Solutions says it doesn't want parents leaving children alone with its apps. Instead, it believes parents and babysitters should help children use the games. It denies making any inappropriate claims about the educational value of its apps. (Source:

The CCFC has previously filed similar complaints against the makers of two video series, 'Baby Einstein' and 'Your Baby Can Read'. The complaints resulted in an offer to refund customers (Baby Einstein) and an FTC settlement (Your Baby Can Read).

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