On The iPad, Children’s Apps Shill Sex, Guns, And Scientology (AAPL)

March 19, 2012

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The Daily

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Seemingly innocuous educational apps featuring kittens and smiling babies dressed up in animal costumes might be luring your toddler into a life of sex, guns, and Scientology.

Parents have noticed a plethora of lewd, R-rated ads popping-up on free versions of iOS and Android apps that are geared towards children, reports The Daily.

Click here to see what kids are accidentally clicking on

A user review for “123 Animals Counting” reads, “I’m looking at a topless female corpse with bite marks in her neck while my toddler learns his numbers. Get your act together.”

The first customer review for “ABC Phonics,” which stars smiling puppies, kittens, and ponies, reads: “When I opened this app it had an ad with a half naked women on it and a women sitting on a man in sexy tights. Not good.”

An Austrian man sent an angry letter to various news publications complaining that when his 6-year-old son was using “Nursery TV” on his iPhone, the child asked, “Daddy, what’s Scientology?” Apparently an ad for the cult-like religion appeared when the child was watching a video of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

This isn’t the first time that parents have discovered that kids’ apps have adult consequences: an 8-year-old girl accidentally racked up a $1,400 bill in 2011 playing “Smurfs’ Village,” a game for children 4 and up which had pop-ups offering virtual smurfberries for $90. While the game was free, the cost of the virtual goods were real.

Forty-four percent of American children asked for an iPad last Christmas and the tablet has been heavily marketed as an educational device.

The Daily reports:

Ad networks typically group their offerings into age-specific categories, such as 13+, 18+ and 21+. But a developer or ad network might mistakenly put its product in the wrong age category — or none at all. When it comes to blame, there’s a merry-go-round effect: Developers finger ad networks; ad networks point back to developers, and to rogue advertisers.

Often developers don’t even realize when inappropriate ads are making appearing on their apps.

For now, it looks like the only way to completely avoid exposure to the inappropriate ads is to buy the full, ad-free version of the apps.


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