This timely article appeared in the Guardian today; the title says it all: It's time more parents started paying for children's apps. Teachers With Apps has been singing this song since conception. Making a quality educational app is far from cheap, and marketing that app, which is equally as important as the product itself, is also time-consuming and costly. That is exactly how Anne and I got into the whole concept of reviewing apps. Back in '09 when our first few apps soared to the top of the charts, we thought we had our double rainbow! Well, sales fell just as quickly. We realized that being teachers is a very different business than the many hats we would need to wear to bring a product of this nature to market. Long story short, we created a mission to review only what we consider high-quality, educational apps, which we field-test with real kids. We survived the pre-revenue phase and continue to stay true to our mission and we remain one of the most respected educational app discovery/resource sites for educators, parents, and caregivers. Please read the snippet of the article from the Guardian and let us know your thoughts!
As the FTC sues Amazon for unauthorized in-app purchases, parents can support responsible developers of kids' apps
Spooked by in-app purchases in children's apps? There are plenty of paid alternatives. Amazon is in big trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. The US regulator has filed a lawsuit alleging that the company “has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children”. The lawsuit makes for interesting reading, quoting an unnamed Amazon Appstore employee as saying complaints about children’s in-app spending were at “near house on fire” levels within weeks of Amazon launching in-app purchases within its store in 2011. It cites specific games – Tap Zoo and Ice Age Village – and claims that Amazon has received “thousands of complaints” about the issue while running an “unclear and confusing” process for parents to try to seek refunds.
Bad Amazon? Well, the company is not alone. Apple settled a similar FTC complaint this year, promising to refund at least $32.5m to affected parents. If a report earlier this week is to be believed, Apple has been egging the FTC on to take action against Google over similar issues. These companies all made money – through the revenue share, they take from in-app purchases made within apps distributed by their stores – from children spending money they shouldn’t have. Regulators like the FTC getting involved was inevitable. It’s good that parents will be getting refunds, and also good that the crackdown has already forced changes in the way these stores operate. That includes Amazon, which started requiring people to enter passwords for in-app purchases of more than $20 in March 2012, and for all purchases in early 2013. Responsibility doesn’t just lie with the app store owners though. We need to talk about parents.Why are so many parents letting their children play mobile games that sell in-app purchases in quantities of up to $99.99 at a time? And, just as importantly, why are so much still unwilling to pay for the children’s apps that don't do this? I went to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield earlier this month, and found a hugely encouraging number of companies making creative, educational and innovative apps for children, selling them as paid apps with single, upfront payments, and working hard to win parents’ trust with their policies on data collection, in-app website links and ads for even their own apps. I also found a hugely discouraging number of them talking gloomily about the difficulties they have breaking even on the app stores, because so many parents prefer to let their children play freemium games like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush Saga than pay for actual kids’ apps. Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga are fine, but they're not children’s apps. Nor are Hay Day, Plants vs. Zombies 2, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, The Sims FreePlay, Angry Birds Go, or anything with “Saga” on the end. These aren't children’s games, even if a lot of children are playing them. It’s good that Apple and Amazon are putting more measures in place to help parents guard against unauthorized spending – even if it was prompted by the threat of regulators getting involved – but there’s still a blunt question for parents:
Why not buy some actual children’s apps? Read the full article HERE. The question of "Why not buy some actual children’s apps?" is a puzzling one. What or where can I find these hidden gems? you might ask yourself. Teachers With Apps has done all the work for you, including helpful articles in our Teacher Tool and Parent Page, as well as in this blog space. Come visit, you might even buy an app! Here are some of our most popular reviews: