Exposure to prompts to make in-app purchases in mobile games has a significant impact on children's purchasing behavior, revealed researchers from the University of Leicester. The researchers examined the impact on children of in-game adverts in advergames, mobile apps and social media games.
Researchers examined 25 of the most popular online games and found that all 'advergames', all social media games and half of the games provided through popular application platforms contained embedded or contextual advertisements. The results suggested that children are often exposed to a number of problematic marketing practices in online games, mobile apps and social media sites which are not always understood by the child consumer.
‘Exposure to prompts to make in-app purchases in mobile games has a significant impact on children's purchasing behavior.’
Dr. Giuseppe Veltri, senior lecturer in Social Psychology of Communication at the University of Leicester Department of Media and Communication said this is a significant study on an already pressing policy issue. The study demonstrated the large impact that online marketing practices can have on children and the difficulty in managing such effects from the perspective of parents and sheds light on their coping strategies.
The study also found that across Europe children do not receive an equal level of protection from the adverse effects of online marketing, given that marketing to children is regulated in a slightly different manner between countries and because parents apply different models of oversight of their children's online activities. In general, most parents involved in the study did not see online marketing targeting their children as a major risk, and thought that their children are not affected.
The study is published in Journal European Commission.