Do “Learning Apps” Work? Group Pushes For Proof

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Do "learning apps" work? Consumer groups want more evidence...

The makers of child “learning apps” are under increased pressure to prove they work and at least one consumer group has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in hopes of encouraging transparency.

Mom Jody Pratt’s son Steiger loves playing educational apps on an iPad but Pratt also has realistic expectations, noting that as long as he’s entertained and occupied, she’s happy.

“Is it gonna get him into Harvard? Not so much,” Pratt adds.

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Fisher Price, accusing the company of false advertising. Specifically, “Claiming that their apps are educational for babies, that they teach numbers… letters… when the companies seem to have no evidence that that’s in fact is the case,” said Susan Linn, Director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

The group is hoping the FTC will take a closer look at “learning apps” and create guidelines for companies.

Fisher Price, the company behind apps like “laugh and learn” said its goal is to “make appropriate toys for the ways children play, discover and grow.”

The FTC doesn’t comment on specific cases but offered this explanation of how it approaches false advertising investigations, “We ask the company for its substantiation for the science it has to back up its claims. The law requires that advertising claims are supported by reliable evidence,” Mary Engle, of the FTC, told CNN.

Parents downloading “learning apps” for kids should have realistic expectations. They may also want to test out apps they download before giving them to young children.