FTC Receives Complaints About Learning Apps For Babies

Some educational apps may not be all that educational. At least that's the claim made in a complaint filed this week at the Federal Trade Commission against Fisher Price. Its Laugh & Learn apps have been downloaded nearly 3 million times.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Maybe you've seen a busy parent do this - hand over their smart phone to a child with a kid-friendly app running to keep them busy. Well, yesterday an advocacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Fisher Price is deceiving parents by promoting its Laugh & Learn apps as educational.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Babies are encouraged to learn about shapes and colors on this version of Laugh & Learn apps.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGH & LEARN APP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Green triangle.

SYDELL: But an organization called Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood says that just isn't true.

JOSH GOLIN: The prevailing research shows that apps are not actually educational for babies that age.

SYDELL: Josh Golin is the Campaign's associate director. Fisher-Prices' Laugh and Learn apps have been downloaded nearly three million times, he says. And he says as hard as it can be to quiet a restless infant, apps are not the answer.

GOLIN: The best thing for babies is not to have any screen time. The American Academies of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two

SYDELL: Fisher-Price begs to differ. In a statement, the company's Dr. Kathleen Alfano, an expert in childhood education, says a great deal of research went into the apps. She calls the Campaign's claims unsupported.

The FTC will now investigate the complaint. If it turns out that those apps don't benefit baby, Fisher-Price could face monetary damages.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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